The Best Canadian Novels by Canadian Authors

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The Best Canadian Novels by Canadian Authors 31

I really wanted to make a list of my favorite Canadian novels by Canadian Authors. I did not realize how difficult this would be. So many authors are distinctly Canadian because they write about Canada and the uniquely Canadian experience. However, there are so many amazing writers who are Canadian and I had no idea!

Compiling a list of talented individuals was especially difficult because of how many books I could not include on this list. The list could go on and on. I enlisted the help of trusted friends as well as my mother. After all, it is because of her that i developed my love of reading. This list of Canadian authors is just the tip of the iceberg.

*Post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through links result in a small commission to us at no cost to you. Some books have been gifted. All opinions are our own.

Table of Contents

Best Historical Fiction Novels by Canadian Authors

Hum if You dont know the words

Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais

This coming-of-age story examines the relationship between a black woman and a white girl in apartheid South Africa in 1976. This novel is a brutally honest and emotionally compelling story, unlike anything I have ever read.

This book begins just before the 1976 Soweto uprising in which thousands of black students marched in protest of the apartheid government. Though the protest was peaceful, police open-fired killing a hundred children.

This historical fiction book led to the most amazing discussions with our book club. The characters jump off the page. I was completely absorbed from the first sentence on the first page until the last page of the book. It is powerful and poignant and one of Jackie’s all-time favorite books. This is an African Novel that you will not want to miss.

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry  and more great Canadian Novels by Canadian Authors

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

This novel is an epic and heartbreaking saga of life in India. It is a story of love and friendship in an unnamed city in 1975. Four strangers who are fleeing the caste system try and escape their city when the government declares a State of Emergency.

People come together and are ripped apart in this memorable book. This is a must for your list of Canadian novels to read.

Someone Knows my Name by Lawrence Hill  and more great Canadian Novels by Canadian Authors

Someone Knows My Name: A Novel/ Book of Negroes (non-American Editions) by Lawrence Hill

This book was published in Canada and is the winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize. Aminata Diallo is abducted as a child in Africa and enslaved in South Carolina.

She escapes during the Revolutionary was and goes to Manhattan when she becomes a scribe- recording the names of the black slaves. This book captures a lesser-known aspect of history and is beautifully written which is such a contrast to the poignant story within. 

Fugitive Pieces

Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels

This multiple award-winning Canadian historical fiction novel follows Jakob Beer, a Polish Holocaust survivor, over the course of his life as he becomes a famous poet. The second part of the book is told from the perspective of Ben who was born to Holocaust survivors. Their stories come together through Jacob’s poetry.

This beautifully written book will have you thinking about things in an entirely different way. I have never read a Holocaust book like it.

Washington black 1

Washington Black by Esi Edugyen

Washington Black, Wash, is a slave in a Barbados sugar plantation. When he is selected to be the manservant for the master’s brother, he does not know what to expect. Christopher Wilde is nothing like his brother. He is an explorer, an inventor, and an abolitionist. Soon the two find themselves fleeing to save Wash’s life.

This is a powerful story about what it means to be free.

Why we like it: This book is a Man Booker Prize Finalist for a reason. The writing is wonderful and the story feels magical.
Find this book in Books with a Color in the Title / Books by Canadian Authors

Historical Fiction

Ultimate List of Historical Fiction

Love Historical Fiction? The Ultimate List of Historical Fiction is the perfect list for you. It is carefully divided by time.

Best Canadian Mystery Novels

Still Life by Louise Penny

Still Life by Louise Penny (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #1)

The first in the New York Times Best Selling series of Chief Inspector Gamache. I fell in LOVE with the Inspector, the town of Three Pines, and its residents. Louise Penny CAN WRITE.

The mystery was great (and I didn’t solve it) but what got me the most was Penny’s writing style and reflections on the human psyche. This first Louise Penny book has Chief Inspector Armand Gamache searching a piece of art for clues after its painter, Jane Neal, turns up dead.

This is one of the best detective books and detective series I have ever read. You will fall in love with Three Pines and the people who live there. The wonderful community in this series is the best of what cozy books should be. If you love mystery novels and have not read this series, What are you waiting for?

Find this book in Louise Penny Books in Order / Feel-Good Books / Best Mysteries of all Time /

The sweetness at the bottom of the pie

Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

This is the first book in the Flavia De Luce series. This 11-year-old aspiring chemist is a wonderful heroine. I love her- she is smart and precocious. This is one of the best historical mystery books for YA readers and does not have violence. 

It is 1950 and Flavia has a love of poisons. When she finds a man taking his last breath in a cucumber patch, she is not scared at all, rather, she delights in solving the mystery. The rest of this detective series is on my list of books to read. We also included this British mystery book on our list of Books for 13-year-olds and in our favorite books by Canadian Authors.

The Maid

The Maid by Nita Prose

January 2022 Good Morning America Pick

Molly Gray works as a maid in a grand hotel and gets joy from leaving things orderly and pristine. Molly struggles with reading social cues and has had even more trouble since her gran can no longer help.

When Molly finds a dead body in a room at the hotel, she becomes a prime suspect and will need all her friends to help her.

Why We Loved it: I loved the description of this book and I hoped it would live up to my expectations. It did that and more. I adored every minute of this story and closed the last page smiling.

Find This Book in: The Maid Book Club Questions / Books like Lessons in Chemistry / Best Mystery Books / Feel-Good Book / Books for Book Clubs

The Glass Hotel  and more great Canadian Novels by Canadian Authors

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

The Glass Hotel has been on my TBR since our spring round-up was released. Ponzi schemes, ghosts, cargo ships, weird-sibling dynamics. Sounds like the game I play with my kids where I ask them to name a few random things I turn into a story.⁣ Except this story is way better (and makes way more sense) than any story I could come up with.

This tale had me captivated. It’s a dark, honest look at human nature. This was my first experience with Emily St. John Mandel, but now I want to go read Station 11.

Romance Novels by Canadian Authors

Meet me at the lake

Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune

Will and Fern spent one amazing, adventure-filled day together in their early 20s with a promise to meet up again one year later. When Fern shows up and Will doesn’t, she is heartbroken.

Now, nine years later, Fern has inherited the lakeside resort that she never wanted to run, her ex-boyfriend is the resort manager, and she needs help. When Will shows up at the resort with an offer to help get things back in order, she doesn’t know if she can get over her old feelings and trust him again.

Why I Love It: Set between Muskoka and Toronto, it reminded me of my childhood and teenage years! This is a romance novel that left my heart feeling gushy. I wanted to start at the beginning as soon as I was done the last page.

Find This Book In Second Chance Romance Novels / Hotel Novels / Ultimate Beach Reads 2023 / Carley Fortune Books In Order

The holiday swap

Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox

When Charlie Goodwin gets a concussion, and cannot smell or taste, she doesn’t know what to do. Her job as a chef and the promotion she has been working toward is on the line.

She begs her twin sister Cass to switch places like they did when they were kids. She will take over the bakery and Cass will pretend to be her.

This adorable holiday romance is just the book to brighten your day and put a smile on your face. How could we not put it on a list of novels about food? This is one of the best holiday books we have read!

Kamila Knows Best

Kamila Knows Best by Farah Heron

This Bollywood retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma is a sweet and easy-to-read contemporary fiction book that brings Emma to life in a whole new way.

Kamila Hussain lives with her dad and is trying to keep him healthy after a few health scares. She works with him at an accounting firm and spends her free time volunteering with animals and matchmaking.

When her secret nemesis comes back to town, her world is turned upside down. If you want to check out more Jane Austen Retellings, check out our post!

vanessa Yus magical Paris Tea Shop

Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop by Roselle Lim

Oh, how I loved this matchmaking book. ⁣What could be better than a love story set in a Paris tea shop with a little magic sprinkled on top? This magical realism book is not a complicated or unexpected story.  But what it is, is delightful, fun, and lighthearted. ⁣

Vanessa Yu never wanted to see people’s future in tea leaves and spent her entire life fighting it.  She also knows that this “gift” will stand in the way of having a successful relationship because she cannot stop blurting out truths whether she wants to or not. 

When Vanessa’s aunt offers to bring her to Paris to hone her skills and get her life in order, Vanessa goes.  As she finally gets to experience Paris, she wonders if she can change her destiny as well. When it comes to matchmaking books, this one is a favorite! And be sure to check out our delectable books about tea.

Best Classic Novels by Canadian Authors

Anne of green Gables by LM Mongtogery and more great Canadian Novels by Canadian Authors

Anne of Green Gables by L.M Montgomeryir?source=bk&t=beyondth06 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=5c9b77d29546960eec62ffcf6e66c0aa& cb=1590237272404

My mother was the first person to read this middle grade book to me and I was immediately drawn to Anne. She was smart, precocious, and had a way of making everyone love her while simultaneously finding new ways to get into trouble. 

Anne is an orphan who is sent to live with siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert who wanted a male orphan to help them on the farm. Anne was sent to them instead. She is bright and loquacious and wins their hearts.

Something is comforting about this cozy book that makes me read it repeatedly. This is a beautiful book about friendship and found family. I am not sure if it is more popular in Canada but, one day I hope to visit Prince Edward Island. This is one of my (Jackie) all-time favorite books.

Find this book in Coming-of-Age Books / Friendship Books / Realistic Fiction / Books with Green in the Title

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood  and more great Canadian Novels by Canadian Authors

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood 

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read.

She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant because, in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable.

Offred remembers when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge, her husband Luke, and her daughter But all of that is gone now….

Why We Love This Book: This dystopian novel is scary because of how convincing it is. There is a reason this novel by Canadian Author, Margaret Atwood, has won awards. It will make you think differently about everything.
Find This Book in Thought-Provoking Books / Book Adaptations on Netflix / Dystopian Novels

Must Read Novels by Canadian Authors

Ragged Company by Richard Wagamese  and more great Canadian Novels by Canadian Authors

Ragged Company by Richard Wagamese

This is one of my all-time favorite books of fiction and the fact that it was written by a Canadian author makes it that much better. After reading it I told everyone I knew to READ this book. You must savor this book and don’t rush the reading. 
I felt a connection to each character and their tragic narrative. 
The writing is truly captivating in the oral storytelling tradition. The beliefs and spirituality of First Nations shine through the narrative of these characters. 

I know that I have not touched the plot but I want you to read and experience this book for yourself. (Written by Carolyn Robins)

In the Skin of the Lion by Michael Ondaatje  and more great Canadian Novels by Canadian Authors

In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje 

This was the first book that I read by Michael Ondaatje, a wonderful and well-known Canadian author. I found it particularly fascinating as it combined true stories and fictionized stories based on facts about the early immigrants to Toronto in the 1930s, their living conditions, and their importance in building the landmarks of Toronto…The Bloor Street viaduct and the Harris Water Treatment Plant.

This was a beautifully written story that has stayed with me these many years. His more famous book” The English Patient” was a much more difficult book for me to read. His love of poetry is more evident in that book and its format was unusual. I have to say that I liked watching the film The English Patient more than I did reading the book. (Written by Carolyn Robins)

Life of Pi by Yann Martel  and more great Canadian Novels by Canadian Authors

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

When a boat sinks in the Pacific, the only survivors are a 16-year-old boy named Pi, an orangutan, a hyena, a Bengal tiger, and a zebra. And while this book was written less than 20 years ago, it is already a modern classic.

This is not a book that once read can be forgotten. I know that some people look at the story as an extended metaphor in which each animal represents a person but personally, I like the book exactly the way it was written. There is magic in the pages of this book in all meanings of the word. I had no idea Martel was Canadian and this on one of my favorite books on this list of Canadian Novels.

Fall on your knees

Fall on Your Knees by Anne-Marie MacDonald 

I read this book when it was first published in 2002. Needless to say, I needed to remind myself of some of the plot details but, the emotions in this book remain.

This book is a multigenerational saga that deals with the effect of trauma. This book will bring you to your knees, literally and figuratively. This is a heartwrenching pick from our list of books by Candian authors.

Alice Munro  and more great Canadian Authors

Dear Life by Alice Munro

Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2013. She has won numerous awards including the Mann Booker for her short stories.

I have read a few, everyone I know from Canada has read some of her work and I would be remiss if I did not include her on this list; however, I should add that I do not like her writing. She is a brilliant writer who makes you feel the way her characters feel. Unfortunately, this is often completely depressing.

Best Fiction Novels by Canadian Authors

The secret daughter

The Secret Daughter by Ship Somaya Gowda

This is a powerful novel about two families and the daughter that ties them together. One poor family in India has a daughter that they cannot take care of so they take her to an orphanage.

One American family adopts a child from India who grows up to win an internship that would allow her to live in India for a year. The story is beautifully written and poignant as it examines two mothers and the love they have for their children. It looks at the economic disparity in India and how people’s lives are shifted and shaped.

From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle  and more great Canadian Novels by Canadian Authors

From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle

Winner, Kobo Emerging Writer Prize Nonfiction
Winner, Indigenous Voices Awards
Winner, High Plains Book Awards
Finalist, CBC Canada Reads
Globe and Mail Book of the Year
An Indigo Book of the Year
A CBC Best Canadian Nonfiction Book of the Year  

There is a reason this book has won so many prestigious awards. It is the memoir of a Métis Cree man who was abandoned as a toddler and placed in foster care with his two brothers. This book is a powerful look and family, prejudice, racism, and fighting to overcome it all to find happiness.

Room by Emma Donoghue and more isolation books

Room by Emma Donoghue

This is a haunting story about a woman held captive in a shed for years with her five-year-old son. She tries to teach him and entertain him in their tiny room until they have a chance to escape. This is an unforgettable pick from books that will emotionally wreck you.

Following their escape, they find acclimating to normal life to be challenging, especially for the little boy. This story will pull on your heartstrings and leave you in tears.

Even though the saying is “the book is better”, the movie adaptation of this contemporary fiction book written by a Canadian author was really good. There are only a few other book adaptations I would add to that list. If you haven’t read this isolation book about motherhood yet, you need to add it to your list.

More Amazing Canadian Novels by Canadian Authors

Canada Reads 2022 Finalists:

Kids Books by Canadian Authors

the paper bag princess by robert n munsch

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munch

Robert Munch and his collection of smart and mostly hilarious children’s books are a household name in Canada. I have the entire collection of books which was given to me when my oldest was born.

The Paper Bag Princess is an unlikely princess story (which is one of my favorite kinds of story). The Princess rescues the Prince and finds her own way. Its amazing. While I Love You Forever may be Munch’s most famous book, this one is my Favorite

Jacob two two

Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang by Mordecai Richler

Is there anyone who is not Canadian that has heard of this book? Im honestly curious because it is a household name in Canada.

Jacob Two-Two is two plus two plus two years old. He must say everything twice since nobody listens to him the first time and he is a prisoner of the Hooded Fang because he insulted a grown-up. It is dark and humorous a happy ending. It is more than what is seems by an award winning and acclaimed author Mordecai Richler

The Hockey sweater

The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier

Every child in Canada has read this book. Okay, I may be exaggerating a bit but, there is no book that is more quintessentially Canadian than this one.

Hockey Legend Maurice Richard….Check
Rivalry between the Habs (The Montreal Canadiens) and the Leaf…..Double Check

Raven Brings the Light

Raven Brings the Light by Roy Henry Vickers and Robert Budd

This book is new to be but, I think it will be a Canadian classic one day. This is a story that has been traced back 3,000 years and passed on through generations.

This version of the story was told to the author by Chester Bolton, Chief of the Ravens, from the village of Kitkatla in 1975 (approx). This beautiful story was brought to life by the gorgeous art of Robert Budd. Fun fact: Robert and I went to school together until third grade and I and lucky to call him friend.

What is Your Favorite Canadian Novel?

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