Oh, Canada! We stand on guard for many of your attributes: your sane healthcare system, your commitment to diversity, your delicious food products, and your attractive Prime Minister. (Also, your friendly books reporter may be a secret Canadian-American. Don鈥檛 tell anyone.) Most of all, though, we devour your entertainment: Your singers, songwriters, actors, directors, game show hosts, and artists of varying kinds have all found a home on the international stage. Please enjoy this week鈥檚 Canadian book club: We鈥檝e got Canadian superheroes, Canadian noir thrillers, and the Canadian family for your perusal 鈥 or should we say per-EH-sal? They鈥檙e all as addictive as ketchup chips or poutine.

1. All Those Explosions Were Someone Else鈥檚 Fault by James Alan Gardner ($18): This may come as a surprise, but many of your favorite (so should we say favourite?) superheroes have a Canadian origin. We鈥檙e not just talking about Captain Canuck; Wolverine and Deadpool both originate from the Great White North. And even though Superman is technically from Krypton and lives in Metropolis, one of his creators, artist Joe Shuster, was Canadian. Gardner鈥檚 new novel graces us with some very new Canadian superheroes, new villains for them to face, and some seriously funny satire.

In Gardner鈥檚 world, Darklings are the world鈥檚 richest individuals, created 35 years ago when they were given immortality and great power by various dark powers and demons in exchange for cash and 鈥渙ther unusual but completely legal commitments.鈥 (If you think the one percent are bad now, see what happens when they can live forever and literally eat you.) The world gradually adapts to this, as the world tends to do: 鈥淲hen CEOs become vampires, Congress outlaws stakes.鈥 Rich vampires can stay above the law by paying the poor for a drink, a process called 鈥渢rickle-down.鈥

Sparks, the world鈥檚 defense, are 鈥渙rdinary humans with superhuman powers.鈥 These powers, which set one up to fight on the side of good, can be triggered by your typical lab accident. That鈥檚 what happens to Kimberlite Crystal Lam (鈥渂lame my father. He鈥檚 a geologist.鈥), a genderfluid geology student at the University of Waterloo. Kim鈥檚 roommates, Miranda, Jools, and Shar, are also involved and are given really cool superpowers. They鈥檙e going to need them, because a new villain called Diamond is wreaking some serious havoc. Gardner is a multiple award winner for his science fiction, with two Aurora Awards from the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association, an Asimov Reader鈥檚 Choice Award, and the Theodore Sturgeon (of Star Trek fame) Award for short fiction. Proving you can鈥檛 keep a good Spark down, there鈥檚 a sequel, They Promised Me the Gun Wasn鈥檛 Loaded, coming out next year.

2. Montreal Noir, edited by John McFetridge and Jacques Filippi ($16): Akashic Books has been releasing successful anthologies of the best noir fiction since 2004鈥檚 Brooklyn Noir. Here, they move north, giving us noir in franglais, Montreal鈥檚 signature blend of cultures. (Don鈥檛 worry; the stories themselves are in English, though both French and English writers are represented). Montreal鈥檚 cosmopolitan nature, old-world cool, and shifting personality make it a perfect breeding ground for noir, a genre of victims, perpetrators, self-destruction, and the frustrations of a corrupt system.

The collection鈥檚 15 stories feature contributions from Tess Fragoulis, Melissa Yi, Genevi猫ve Lefebre, and Catherine McKenzie, as well as Arjun Basu, Samuel Archibald, Patrick Sen茅cal, and Martin Michaud. Titles like 鈥淭he Crap Magnet,鈥 鈥淭hree Tshakapesh Dreams,鈥 and 鈥淭he Haunted Crack House鈥 are sure to pique your interest, and each story is identified by area of town, whether it鈥檚 Notre-Dame-Des-Neiges Cemetery, Sherbrooke Street, Plateau Mont-Royal, or Boulevard Saint-Laurent. After all, claim the editors, 鈥淗istory is everywhere in Montreal. And everything.鈥 Montreal has a lot of history; it marks its 375th birthday this year.

鈥淣oir is Montreal,鈥 write the editors. 鈥淚t鈥檚 unsettling, it鈥檚 subversive, it鈥檚 palpable, but it鈥檚 never obvious. Noir is in the shadows. Montreal鈥檚 long history is dominated by cultures coming together, almost. And cultures coming apart, almost. But always continuing.鈥 Noir is all about internal conflict and struggle, and Montreal displays that in spades: 鈥淐anada claims to be a mosaic of people, as opposed to America鈥檚 melting pot. In Canada, we don鈥檛 strive to melt into one identity, we are a mosaic of many identities. Yeah, that鈥檚 the polite and positive spin on the struggle that people have gone through to maintain their own identities, and Montreal is ground zero for that struggle.鈥 So put on your chicest outfit, grab a Montreal bagel, and celebrate the 鈥渂eautiful mess鈥 that is the island of Montreal.

3. Someone You Love Is Gone by Gurjinder Basran ($16): Canada鈥檚 mosaic, whether you want to put a positive or a cynical spin on it, features a great diversity of people and cultures. What links us all are the emotional and human experiences we share. Basran鈥檚 new novel (her first, Everything Was Good-bye, won the Search for the Great BC Novel Contest and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Award) is about Simran and her siblings, born and raised in Canada, who must deal with the death of their mother, who immigrated to Canada after being raised in India.

鈥淚 sit at the table and forget myself for a moment and the past steps forward. The house is as it was before Father died, and even before that, before Diwa left and before Jyoti was born. The house had a different light then or perhaps that鈥檚 just memory casting a glow on everything, candlelight and sunset, everything only slightly visible. Mother is in the kitchen, washing the dinner dishes. Steam is rising and the window in front of her fogs over her reflection. Even here, she is a ghost.鈥

In understanding her grief for her mother, Simran must take a hard look at all her family relationships. Those between herself and her siblings are complicated (her sister begins to distance herself; her brother, long estranged, returns), and so were those with her parents. Painfully, she is also witnessing the unraveling of her own marriage, and her daughter is less and less a person she knows. Simran鈥檚 exploration into her family鈥檚 history uncovers more than she bargained for: Why did her brother leave? What does this newly discovered inheritance mean? And how does it all change her definition of who she is? This multigenerational family story is an epic saga of people, place, and change. Welcome to the mosaic.

What books make you want to bathe in maple syrup? Tag us in your next Eh-plus read @BritandCo.

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