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June 2016 Staff Picks

Brenda’s Pick: The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel

High Mountains

Author Yann Martel has a way of telling a story that leaves behind a residue. In the case of The High Mountains of Portugal, the unifying feature that joins three seemingly separate stories is just that –a region of northern Portugal. Each of the three narratives carries forward to the next with a linking element. The characters are separate individuals set in different time periods but each of these men are dealing with grief through a loss. Martel’s fictional quirkiness comes through his descriptions of the circumstances and reactions. I love the way he leads a reader into a story and then in the final few pages will add a detail that takes an unexpected direction. Yes, expect a few of those. Martel is a true writer of fiction and these stories go much deeper than what is apparent on the surface.

Sandra’s Pick: Touch by Alexi Zentner


This 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize nominee should have been a winner. Canadian author Alexi Zentner successfully weaves Canadian history with a fictional story that reads like the truth—including French characters, bleak wilderness, and the making of a town through the gold rush and a sawmill—despite the giants, gods, sea-witches and shape-shifters that also show up in the dark woods of this story. The magic in this tale does not take away from the exceptional writing of losses, loves and lives. In fact, in his exceptional storytelling way, Zentner reminds us of the importance of myth and mystery in life. A beautiful, tragic, moving and magical novel.