Most people have seen Montreal as the backdrop for many films and television shows. However it is often overlooked that Montreal is also the setting for some pretty incredible books. From modern tales set in the slums of Montreal to beloved Canadian classics, this city has been the glue that holds two covers together. So if you’re looking for your next great novel, here are seven to choose from.
Lullabies For Little Criminals
Written by Heather O’Neill, and published in 2006, this book is all about the seedy underbelly of Montreal. The story follows Baby, a twelve year-old girl, over the course of two years as she tries to navigate a difficult life filled with abuse, drug overdoses, abandonment, and death. The book is an incredible read, and once you start you won’t want to put it down. This heart-wrenching story will give you a new perspective on life, and the city we call home.
Photo cred - MyrensMysco
If you’ve ever seen the hit television series Bones, then you should check out the book that started it all. Written by Kathy Reichs, Déjà Dead is the first adventure of Dr. Temperance Brennan, the Director of Forensic Anthropology for the province of Quebec. After a dismembered body is found in the basement of an abandoned Montreal monastery, Brennan’s determination to get answers. This book is completely heart stopping and will have you reading long into the night.
The Apprenticeship Of Duddy Kravitz
This story follows the tale of Duddy, a poor Jewish boy growing up in Montreal. When his grandfather tells him that "A man without land amounts to nothing", Duddy strives to become someone his family can be proud of. This classic by Mordecai Richler is a rags to riches story, which explores what it really means to succeed in the world, and redefines what it means to be rich.
Bottle Rocket Hearts
A queer coming-of-age story which builds up to the 1995 referendum. This book explores a young woman’s budding sexuality, her identity, and an attempt to find herself in a drastically changing world. Written by Zoe Whittall, and published in 2007, this book is as relevant today as it was almost ten years ago. A poignant story everyone should read at least once.
The Tin Flute
Written by Gabrielle Roy and published in 1945, this French Canadian classic (originally called Bonheur D'occasion) is about a family living in the slums of Montreal during the second World War. The story is about their struggle to overcome poverty, find love, and survive the hardship of war. In addition to being a great read, the book also won the Prix Femina prize from France as well as Canada’s Governor General Award.
Une Maison De Fummée
Two girls disappear from a country road the night Dominic’s mother dies in a house fire. Thirty years later, another girl goes missing and this time Dominic is going to find out why. Une Maison De Fummée by François Lévesque is a gripping tale that will have your attention from cover to cover. Unfortunately, this book is only available in French, but hopefully an English translation will come out soon!
Photo cred - Gabriele Soares
Like most books about Montreal, Cockroach deals with the not-so-nice side of Montreal. Written by Rawi Hage and published in 2008, the book is about a man from the Middle East who moves to Montreal and finds himself stuck in poverty. After undergoing therapy, and dealing with issues from this childhood, he begins to change how he sees himself, and not for the better. A dark comedy, this book will bring you from tears to laughter with the mere flip of a page.