Celebrate Female Authors With Some Enticing Recent Releases

In celebration of International Women’s Day coming up on Friday, March 8th, here are a few books that I recently enjoyed by exciting female authors.

The Clarion

by Nina Dunic


My first pick is The Clarion by Nina Dunic, a subtle tale of adult siblings, Peter and Anastasia. Dunic is a Canadian author, and her debut novel made the Giller Prize Longlist in 2023. This book is not a warm and fuzzy family story, nor is it a tense family drama; instead, it is a quiet and lovely look at how two siblings lead their separate lives yet are still interconnected due to their shared history.

As the novel begins, we stand in Peter’s shoes.  He is an aspiring musician, and we follow him on his way to an audition.  This chapter introduces us to the title of the book; the clarion refers to a trumpet that Peter inherited from his grandfather. Peter is a shy, anxious character and Dunic’s writing style allows us to get right inside his fears and apprehensions prior to his audition. In what becomes a beautiful character study, we learn that Peter is a somewhat stunted figure, an adult with few friends, no relationship and a job that he likes in a restaurant but that is also not his passion.

The chapters alternate between the two characters, and so the second chapter allows us to walk in the path of Anastasia. Unlike Peter, Anastasia (or Stasi as she likes to be called) has had a successful career, husband and child, essentially the kind of life where everything appears great. We quickly learn, however, that Anastasia has just been passed over for a big promotion and even though she always presents herself as being in control there is a lot of uncertainty in her life.

I loved how the chapters are written in rotating voices of the siblings. Peter’s chapters are calm and quiet with gorgeous descriptive detail of people, settings, and situations. He is always very in the moment. Anastasia’s on the other hand are written in a curter style, as her character has a tougher voice. Her chapters are also more introspective and contemplative as she rethinks her relationships with her mother, husband, and therapist.

Dunic began her writing career with short stories, so she appreciates the value of each word. One of my favourite lines is when Peter talks about learning to breath differently to play the trumpet, he explains: “manipulating the clutch of my chest and push of my mouth could produce liquid amber emotion, a gold-plated sigh, a honey whine.” What a stunning way to describe sound! I hope you fall in love with the beauty of Dunic’s words in the same way that I did.

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Alphabetical Diaries

by Sheila Heti


Alphabetical Diaries by Sheila Heti is my second suggestion. Now I have to say that this one is interesting, in the truest sense. It’s not a page turner or a book that I couldn’t put down, but it is a fascinating literary experiment. Let me explain…Heti had been writing diaries for ten years, when she came up with the idea of putting all the sentences from these journals into a spreadsheet and sorting them alphabetically. She then put the sentences together in the form of a novel, did some editing and voilaAlphabetical Diaries!

The chapters move along alphabetically only containing sentences that begin with that specific letter. While there is no distinct narrative, the same names, themes and ideas come up throughout the chapters, so the reader can put some of the stories together. As diaries are often examples of stream of consciousness writing, mixing up the sentences here really does work. It feels like reading poetry: “Papers upon papers.  Paragraphs are pauses, chapters are also pauses. Part of her was breathless from feeling so alone.” I found reading it to have a fascinating flow and rhythm, and to be deeply honest in the way that diaries are. If I’ve piqued your curiosity, hopefully, you’ll give Alphabetical Diaries a try too.

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So Late in the Day

by Claire Keegan


The last book that I want to recommend is a book of short stories entitled So Late in the Day: Stories of Women and Men by Irish writer Claire Keegan. This compact book of less than 120 pages presents three captivating tales that explore relationships between men and women, and issues such as gender and misogyny. While I was enthralled with all of them, the last story, “Antartica,” is the one that I just can’t shake. Keegan has such a skilled way of using language and presenting an epic tale in a limited amount of pages. Here we follow a married women as she tries to step out of her regular life and explores the idea of an affair. This story is pared down yet also wonderfully descriptive.  As the reader, you’ll be able to envision every moment, particularly the shocking ending to this dramatic tale!

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Kelly I.
Library Assistant, Main Library

Kelly has the great pleasure of spending her time as a Library Assistant at the Main Library. Her favourite things about working at WPL are getting to experience amazing new books all the time, and then write about some of her favourites for the Check It Out blog. When she is away from the library, Kelly loves spending time with her family, who are big into hiking and taking in the great outdoors. Kelly majored in art history at university and so she also loves to immerse herself in all things arts and culture. Her favourite way to spend a Sunday is at an art gallery and then lounging at a café afterwards with a latte in one hand and a great book in the other.