One of our Cityline Book Club‘s favourite things about our current pick, Saleema Nawaz’s Bone and Bread, is how wonderfully she captures the city of Montreal in her writing. From language politics to bagel shops, Nawaz’s setting was so detailed and beautifully realized, that sometimes it felt like there were four main characters in the novel: Beena, Sadhana, Quinn, and Montreal. If reading Bone and Bread has inspired you to read more novels set in “La Belle Ville”, check out our list of 8 more fantastic books set in Montreal. (The starred picks were suggested by Nawaz herself!)
Mordecai Richler, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz: While all of Richler’s Montreal-set stories would be perfect picks for this list, we’re partial to his fourth novel, which takes place in Montreal during the 1940s and focuses on issues of race, religion, and class.
* Heather O’Neill, Lullabies for Little Criminals: Montreal is the backdrop for O’Neill’s hard-hitting tale about Baby, a 12-year-old girl who becomes a prostitute and heroin addict at a young age after the death of her mother and abandonment by her father.
Zoe Whittall, Bottle Rocket Hearts: Set in the months leading up to the 1995 Referendum in Montreal, this critically-acclaimed queer coming-of-age story features themes of self-discovery, the development of personal identity, and the craziness of being in love.
Gabrielle Roy, The Tin Flute: This Classic Canadian novel (originally published in French as Bonheur d’occasion) focuses on a poor family living in the Saint-Henri slums of Montreal in 1940, and is regarded as a key novel in laying the foundation for Quebec’s Quiet Revolution in the 1960s.
* Alice Zorn, Arrythmia: Set during the height of Y2K paranoia, this debut novel follows the intertwined lives of five Montrealers as they navigate the complex relationships in their lives.
* Rawi Hage, Cockroach: This critically-acclaimed dark comedy follows an immigrant man who moves to Montreal from the Middle East and struggles to accept the poverty he is forced into there.
Emily St. John Mandel, Last Night in Montreal: Love, amnesia, and the nature of obsession run throughout this gritty debut novel that is, naturally, set in the city named in its title.
*Gwethalyn Graham, Earth and High Heaven: This winner of the 1944 Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction is a story of human relationships, focusing on a couple who is confronted by racial intolerance.
Have you ever read a novel where the setting was so well described that you felt like you were right there, too? Tell us about them in the comments!
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