Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize 2016

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  • 1
    catalogue cover
    9780670068784 Paperback FICTION / Literary On Sale Date: April 05, 2016
    $24.95 CAD 5.75 x 8.5 x 0.9 in | 320 pages Carton Quantity: 24 Canadian Rights: Y Hamish Hamilton
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      Description

      Winner of the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize

      Winner of the 2017 City of Victoria Butler Book Prize

      Finalist for the 2017 Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award

      How can you stand up to tyranny when your own identity is in turmoil?


      Vietnam is a haunted country, and Dr. Nguyen Georges-Minh is a haunted man. In 1908, the French rule Saigon, but uneasily; dissent whispers through the corridors of the city. Each day, more Vietnamese rebels are paraded through the streets towards the gleaming blade of the guillotine, now a permanent fixture in the main square and a gruesome warning to those who would attempt to challenge colonial rule.
           It is a warning that Georges-Minh will not heed. A Vietnamese national and Paris-educated physician, he is obsessed by guilt over his material wealth and nurses a secret loathing for the French connections that have made him rich, even as they have torn his beloved country apart.
           With a close-knit group of his friends calling themselves the Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains, Georges-Minh plots revenge on the French for the savagery they have shown to the Vietnamese. And it falls to Georges-Minh to create a poison to mix into the Christmas dinner of a garrison of French soldiers. It is an act that will send an unmistakable message to the French: Get out of Vietnam.
           But the assassination attempt goes horribly wrong. Forced to flee into the deep jungles of the outer provinces, Georges-Minh must care for his infant son, manage the growing madness of his wife, and elude capture by the hill tribes and the small--but lethal--pockets of French sympathizers.
           Journey Prize winner Yasuko Thanh transports us into a vivid, historical Vietnam, one that is filled with chaotic streets, teeming marketplaces, squalid opium dens, and angry ghosts that exist side by side with the living.

      Bio
      YASUKO THANH's story collection Floating Like the Dead was shortlisted for the Danuta Gleed Award and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. One of its stories won an Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Short Story. The title story won the Journey Prize for the best story published in Canada in 2009. Quill & Quire named Floating Like the Dead a best book of the year. CBC hailed Yasuko Thanh one of ten writers to watch in 2013. Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains, her debut novel, won the Rogers Writers Trust for Fiction and was nominated for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award. It was shortlisted for the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize and chosen as one of the National Post’s best books of 2016. She lives in Victoria, B.C., with her two children. In her spare time she plays in a punk band called 12 Gauge Facial, for which she writes all the songs and music.
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    • Awards & Reviews

      Awards
      Amazon Canada First Novel Award 2017, Short-listed
      City of Victoria Butler Book Prize 2017, Winner
      Reviews
      Winner of the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize

      Finalist for the 2017 Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award


      One of the NP99: National Post’s best books of 2016


      Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains offers a very readable and equally savage look at colonial Vietnam. Yasuko Thanh’s writing whips up a miasma of jasmine oil and incense and opium smoke, while remaining gauzy as tulle. Which is not to say the story is frivolous. Think of a shiv as opposed to a longsword: one is showy and unwieldy, the other, subtle and devastating. Thanh spares us the weighty sentimentality and epic posturing of some historical novels, and gets right to the goods, through stirring narrative and imagery . . . Thanh’s ability to navigate such brutal territory with a steady hand makes this book a must-read.”Globe and Mail

      “Deft touches of magical realism lend this story of love, obligation, and sabotage the mysterious aura referenced in the title.”Publishers Weekly, starred review

      Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains will carry you away with the startling clarity of its language—you will almost forget you are reading at all. Until, that is, you are drawn up short by the uncanny sense that this book is not really about the past at all . . . that it is instead directly addressing you, the reader.”—Johanna Skibsrud, Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author of The Sentimentalists

      “Sweeping yet intimate, Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains is a novel in which not a single, haunting detail is trivial, and a devastating edginess straddles what is intoxicating, astonishing, and at once ancient and contemporary. Yasuko Thanh has rendered a richly imagined narrative of five men plotting, drinking, dreaming of poison against the fascinating backdrop of colonialism and revolution, where ghosts, superstition, love, and insanity seethe. This is a book to be savoured, thought about, and discussed — a book to be remembered.”—Alexandra Curry, author of The Courtesan

      “The universal legacies of colonialism: guilt, revenge, violence, ghosts. Yasuko Thanh captures Viet Nam's historical intrigues in story-telling that is compelling, vivid, tragic, passionate.”—Kim Echlin, author of The Disappeared

      “The ordinary mingles with the monumental…. A novel that feels simultaneously historical and firmly contemporary.” — MAISONNEUVE Magazine

      "Straining under the colonial rule of the French at the turn of the twentieth century, Vietnam is rife with corruption, oppression, opium dens, and revolutionary cells, and an active guillotine dominates a Saigon square. With compelling narrative drive, Yasuko Thanh imbues Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains with atmosphere and resonance, and creates mesmerizing characters who undergo complex change — politically, socially, personally, sexually — as they are gathered into a vortex of intrigue and risk. The author is as fearless and as wise in reshaping the mystique of the revolutionary as she is in delineating a dramatic time and place in this elegant and tantalizing novel."- 2016 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize Jury Lauren B. Davis, Trevor Ferguson, and Pasha Malla
  • 2
    catalogue cover
    After James Michael Helm Canada
    9780771038761 Hardcover FICTION / Literary On Sale Date: September 13, 2016
    $34.95 CAD 6 x 8.5 x 1.4 in | 432 pages Carton Quantity: 12 Canadian Rights: Y McClelland & Stewart
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      Description
      Shortlisted for the 2016 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize

      Globe & Mail "Best Canadian Fiction of 2016"


      This breakout novel from Giller Prize finalist Michael Helm is a genre-bending work of astonishing vision and a dazzling story of our times.



      A neuroscientist retreats to a secluded cabin in the woods, intending to blow the whistle on a pharmaceutical company and its creativity drug gone wrong. A failed poet is lured to Rome as a "literary detective" to decode the work of a mysterious Internet poet who seems to write about murders with precise knowledge of private details. On the heels of a life crisis, a virologist discovers her identity has been stolen by a conceptual artist in whose work someone always goes missing. After James is an audacious, masterful novel, told in three connected parts, each gesturing toward a type of genre fiction -- the gothic horror, the detective novel, and the apocalyptic. As the novel unfolds in great cities, remote regions, and deadly borderlands, it weaves connections both explicit and subtle, pulling us deeper into a greater mystery that has come to define our times. Gorgeously written, alive with intelligence and wit, full of adventure and suspense, After James confirms Michael Helm's reputation as one of the most electrifying writers of his generation
      Bio
      MICHAEL HELM is the author of The Projectionist, a finalist for the Giller Prize, In the Place of Last Things, a finalist for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book, and Cities of Refuge, a Globe and Mail "Book of the Year." An editor at Brick magazine,he teaches at York University and lives near Dundas, ON.
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    • Awards & Reviews

      Awards
      Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize 2016, Short-listed
      Reviews
      • "A warning, a lament, a virtuoso engagement with our times, After James is a singular, puzzle-box of a novel delivered in gorgeous prose. In three stages, with passing homage to the genres of horror, detective, and apocalyptic novels, Michael Helm brilliantly extrapolates riveting narratives from the wonderment of contemporary biology and physics. Failing to connect to a Godhead of old, the characters in After James are transfigured by pills, or by having to defend themselves against the maniacal genius of a computer hacker, or by warring against viral endemics. Readers may find themselves challenged: the jurors did. Those who persevere will be rewarded. Speculative, revelatory, dramatic, and subtly interconnected, the three sections of After James veer ever closer to an end time, yet the novel celebrates being human, and being here, now" -- 2016 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize Jury Lauren B. Davis, Trevor Ferguson, and Pasha Malla

      • “Any attempt to review this book diminishes this book. . . . After James’ beautiful sentences, its intricate and complex structure, its intellectual energy, its philosophical scope and depth – none of these elements can be captured in paraphrase or in critical response.” – Winnipeg Review

      • “After James – recently announced as a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize – has a great deal of suspense and mystery to keep the reader alert, entertained and educated, and tracking the connections in the three tales adds spice to the challenge. . . . The novel is an intellectual exercise in recognizing the overlapping clues, an enjoyment in reading the often-gorgeous writing and a cautionary tale of modern-day dystopian strangeness.” – Winnipeg Free Press

      • “While wonderfully engaging and quite elegant when one is immersed in the novel, the interconnected narratives are so complex that discussing them in detail makes one sound like a conspiracy nut. . . . I spent days reaching for connections in After James that Helm seemed to be pointing to, but that were always just beyond my grasp. In other hands this would be frustrating, but Helm’s execution is so masterful that it made for one of the most satisfying reading experiences I’ve had in years.” – Quill & Quire

      • “The work resonates so strongly it is impossible to dismiss. A resonance with which no cliché, no banality, interferes.” – National Post

      Advance Praise for After James:
      • "The honed precision of Michael Helm’s prose is ice over very deep, very black water. After James is a viral secret of a novel, a trance-state all-day immersion read -- but Helm does not deal in airy imagining. Reality shows up all at once in this book, striking us glancing blows of prolepsis, of a familiarity beyond contempt. A profound and truly frightening book, and a necessary one for our times." -- Marina Endicott

      • "After James is a 21st century masterclass in the use of genre to explore our ever-changing, and ever-slipping, grasp on reality. Helm draws on a base of knowledge broad and deep, from etymology to neuropharmaceuticals, from poetry to cybersecurity, to craft three murkily connected tales that point toward the best kind of cosmic disquiet: beyond comprehension and just out of sight." -- Christopher Phipps, DIESEL bookstore, Oakland, California

      • "In this kaleidoscopic novel the real and the unreal spiral and collide to reveal just how thin the line between truth and fiction really is. Combining elements of horror, mystery and sci-fi, Helm has crafted a literary wormhole. Let yourself fall through. You won't be the same on the other side." -- Emily Ballaine, Green Apple Books, San Francisco

      • "Michael Helm's dazzlyingly creative work almost defies categorization. A novel in three distinct, seemingly (or not) unrelated parts, told from different points of view by unreliable narrators with waking dreams. I reveled in the language and the mystery and let it wash over me as I did Kate Atkinson's Life After Life." -- Marion Abbott, Mrs. Dalloway's bookstore, Berkeley, California
  • 3
    catalogue cover
    The Parcel Anosh Irani Canada
    9780345816740 Hardcover FICTION / Literary On Sale Date: September 06, 2016
    $32.00 CAD 5.97 x 8.5 x 1.08 in | 304 pages Carton Quantity: 12 Canadian Rights: Y Knopf Canada
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      Description
      Finalist for the Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and for the Governor General's Literary Award, this powerful new work, about a transgender sex worker in the red-light district of Bombay who is given an unexpected task, is a gripping literary page-turner--difficult and moving, surprising and tender. Anosh Irani's best novel yet, and his first with Knopf Canada.

      The Parcel
      's astonishing heart, soul and unforgettable voice is Madhu--born a boy, but a eunuch by choice--who has spent most of her life in a close-knit clan of transgender sex workers in Kamathipura, the notorious red-light district of Bombay. Madhu identifies herself as a "hijra"--a person belonging to the third sex, neither here nor there, man nor woman. Now, at 40, she has moved away from prostitution, her trade since her teens, and is forced to beg to support the charismatic head of the hijra clan, Gurumai. One day Madhu receives a call from Padma Madam, the most feared brothel owner in the district: a "parcel" has arrived--a young girl from the provinces, betrayed and trafficked by her aunt--and Madhu must prepare it for its fate. Despite Madhu's reluctance, she is forced to take the job by Gurumai. As Madhu's emotions spiral out of control, her past comes back to haunt her, threatening to unravel a lifetime's work and identity. This is a dark, devastating but ultimately redemptive novel that promises to be one of the most talked-about publications of the year.
      Bio
      ANOSH IRANI has published three critically acclaimed and award-winning novels: The Cripple and His Talismans (2004), a national bestseller; The Song of Kahunsha (2006), which was an international bestseller and shortlisted for Canada Reads and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize; and Dahanu Road (2010), which was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize. His play Bombay Black won the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play (2006), and his anthology The Bombay Plays: The Matka King & Bombay Black was shortlisted for the Governor General's Award. He lives in Vancouver. The author lives in Vancouver, BC.
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    • Awards & Reviews

      Awards
      BC Book Prize's Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize 2017, Short-listed
      DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2017, Long-listed
      Governor General's Literary Awards - Fiction 2016, Short-listed
      International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2018, Long-listed
      Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize 2016, Short-listed
      Reviews
      LONGLISTED FOR THE DSC PRIZE FOR SOUTH ASIAN LITERATURE
      FINALIST FOR THE ETHEL WILSON FICTION PRIZE (BC BOOK AWARDS)
      FINALIST FOR THE WRITERS' TRUST FICTION PRIZE
      SHORTLISTED FOR THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S LITERARY AWARD


      “As engrossing as any thriller, Anosh Irani’s novel offers readers so much more. An aggregate of storytelling accomplishments, The Parcel captivates with its vividly rendered characters. . . . Deeply affecting.” —The Quill and Quire

      “A magnificent novel with powerfully imagined characters . . . bold, bawdy, tender, funny, sorrowful, all that life is made up of.” —Anita Rau Badami, author of The Hero's Walk

      “Part of the way this excellent book heals such a sprawling, horrifying reality is with beauty. . . .” —The Globe and Mail

      “As engrossing as any thriller, Anosh Irani’s fourth novel offers readers so much more. An aggregate of storytelling accomplishments, The Parcel captivates with its vividly rendered characters and commands the reader’s attention by way of unnerving—and at times profoundly disturbing—portraiture of an abject group at the bottom of an already denigrated community at the heart of India’s booming financial hub, Mumbai. . . . Irani leads readers on a memorable walking tour through what is likely alien territory for them. . . . The various episodes in the novel are deeply affecting, giving the reader ample reason to agonize over the fact that such a place exists at all. Irani’s compassion for these discarded souls, and the assertion of their essential dignity, renders them simultaneously touching and distressing.” —Quill & Quire (starred review)

      "Set amid the raucous swirl of Bombay’s Kamathipura Red Light District, The Parcel is a searing indictment of the sex trafficking industry and a compassionate portrait of a troubled but resilient community. In Madhu, the transgender, retired prostitute at the heart of the novel, Anosh Irani has created a powerful yet flawed character to steward the reader through difficult, often disturbing material. Her struggles—with her past, with the legacy she might leave behind—are rendered with honesty and grace. Harrowing, enraging, unexpectedly humorous, and also profoundly sad, The Parcel is a haunting work of fiction that illuminates the ways in which history, both political and personal, pervades the present day." —2016 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize Jury Lauren B. Davis, Trevor Ferguson, and Pasha Malla

      “Irani takes readers into the depths of Mumbai’s teeming Kamathipura district, whose economy depends on prostitution bordering on slavery. The story centres on eunuch and former sex worker Madhu—now a beggar and sometime aid to a powerful madam—who is called on to groom a pre-teen Nepalese girl for work in the brothel. Sounds grim, but Irani’s ear is attuned to the raucous humour of the sex workers as they do what they can to maintain their dignity. A harsh dose of reality administered with wit and clarity.” —NOW

      The Parcel takes on weighty, difficult content involving extensive research, and including fascinating, complicated characters.” —CBC Radio

      “[A]rresting. . . . A searing, disturbing, and intimate portrait of Kamathipura . . . his novel exposes a heartbreaking reality.” —The Vancouver Sun

      “Irani’s novel does not flinch from its dark subject matter, and is already being buzzed about as one of the most provocative works of the fall season.” —Quill & Quire

      “Irani brings to light a fascinating array of characters.” —Toronto Star

      The Parcel showcases the perceptive acid-streaked sensibility that distinguishes Irani’s novels and plays. . . . As in Irani’s novel The Song of Kahunsha . . . disenchantment remains a primary motif in The Parcel. But though Irani makes the hell of slums visceral on his pages, he offers here the ways feral compassion can turn to grace.” National Post

      Anosh Irani’s The Parcel is a dark, intimate and probing look at Kamathipura’s Hijra community through the eyes of its protagonist Madhu. . . . Madhu’s moments of realisation are evocatively captured, as the reader plays silent companion to her travails and by default, the lesser-known, insightful side to the Hijra community. . . . Dark, disturbing and yet triumphant . . . riveting twists and turns. High on drama and emotion set in the seamier side of Mumbai, this novel is a page-turner.” —Mid-day (India)
  • 4
    catalogue cover
    9781443435772 Hardcover FICTION / Short Stories Publication Date: April 26, 2016
    $26.99 CAD 6 x 9 x 0.93 in | 272 pages Carton Quantity: 28 HarperAvenue
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      Description

      LONGLISTED FOR THE SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE

      “Powerful. . . . Full of dark nostalgia.” —NATHAN ENGLANDER

      “A literary high-wire act, not for the faint of heart.” —ALISSA YORK

      An unflinching and masterful collection of award-winning stories, Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush is a career-making debut. Ranging from an island holiday gone wrong to a dive bar on the upswing to a yuppie mother in a pricey subdivision seeing her worst fears come true, these deftly written stories are populated by barkeeps, good men down on their luck, rebellious teens, lonely immigrants, dreamers and realists, fools and quiet heroes. In author Kerry Lee Powell’s skillful hands, each character, no matter what their choices, is deeply human in their search for connection. Powell holds us in her grasp, exploring with a black humour themes of belonging, the simmering potential for violence and the meaning of art no matter where it is found, and revealing with each story something essential about the way we see the world.

      A selection of these stories have won significant awards including the Boston Review short story contest and The Malahat Review’s Far Horizons Award for Short Fiction.

      Bio

      Born in Montreal, KERRY-LEE POWELL has lived in Australia, Antigua and the United Kingdom, where she studied Medieval and Renaissance literature at Cardiff University and directed a literature promotion agency. Her work has appeared in journals and anthologies throughout the United Kingdom and North America, including The Spectator, the Boston Review and the Virago Writing Women series. In 2013, she won the Boston Review fiction contest, The Malahat Review’s Far Horizons Award for short fiction and the Alfred G Bailey manuscript prize.

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    • Awards & Reviews

      Awards
      Reviews
      “Kerry Lee Powell writes with the voice of a prophet crying from the wilderness. She writes of liars and losers, frauds and impostors who dream of escape into extremity, escape from life’s artificiality. With a poet’s control over imagery, her painted tableaux explode into sudden shimmering violence.”
      “Harrowing, whip-smart, both lyrical and tough-as-nails, these stories pack a wallop. With her keen eye and wide-open heart, Powell has managed to capture the strange, malevolent undertow that burbles just beneath the surface of contemporary life. And lucky for us, it makes for a breathtaking read.”
      “An energetic and disturbing collection of stories. I loved the rush of reading it.”
      “These are beautiful stories. They will make you think and they will make you feel and they will always, always, reward your attention.”
      “A transcendent collection . . . . Within Powell’s 15 stories, it is impossible to pick a crown jewel. Each one feels like the favourite until the next.”
      “Masterful . . . . In several stories, characters mired in difficult situations look to the mystical to help them escape, and Powell’s delicacy in these stories is wonderfully successful.”
      “Powerful. . . . Full of dark nostalgia and observed in sharp, vivid prose.”
  • 5
    catalogue cover
    Break Katherena Vermette Canada
    9781487001117 Paperback FICTION / Literary Publication Date: September 17, 2016
    $22.95 CAD 5.25 x 8 in | 288 pages Carton Quantity: 36 Canadian Rights: Y House of Anansi Press
    • Marketing Copy

      Description

      2017 Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Literature Finalist

      Winner, Amazon.ca First Novel Award

      Winner, Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction

      Winner, Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award

      Winner, McNally Robinson Book of the Year

      A Canada Reads 2017 finalist

      National Bestseller

      2016 Governor General’s Literary Award Finalist

      2016 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize Finalist

      National Post 99 Best Books of the Year

      CBC Best Canadian Debut Novels 2016

      Globe and Mail Best 100 Books of 2016

      Quill & Quire Book of the Year

      Kobo Best Books of the Year

      Walrus Magazine The Best Books of 2016

      49th Shelf Books of the Year

      When Stella, a young Métis mother, looks out her window one evening and spots someone in trouble on the Break — a barren field on an isolated strip of land outside her house — she calls the police to alert them to a possible crime.

      In a series of shifting narratives, people who are connected, both directly and indirectly, with the victim — police, family, and friends — tell their personal stories leading up to that fateful night. Lou, a social worker, grapples with the departure of her live-in boyfriend. Cheryl, an artist, mourns the premature death of her sister Rain. Paulina, a single mother, struggles to trust her new partner. Phoenix, a homeless teenager, is released from a youth detention centre. Officer Scott, a Métis policeman, feels caught between two worlds as he patrols the city. Through their various perspectives a larger, more comprehensive story about lives of the residents in Winnipeg’s North End is exposed.

      A powerful intergenerational family saga, The Break showcases Vermette’s abundant writing talent and positions her as an exciting new voice in Canadian literature.

      Bio

      KATHERENA VERMETTE is a Métis writer from Treaty One territory, the heart of the Métis nation, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Her first book, North End Love Songs (The Muses Company), won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry. Her NFB short documentary, this river, won the Coup de Coeur at the Montreal First Peoples Festival and a Canadian Screen Award. Her first novel, The Break, is the winner of three Manitoba Book Awards and the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, and it was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and CBC Canada Reads.

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    • Awards & Reviews

      Awards
      Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize 2016, Short-listed
      Governor General's Literary Award 2016, Short-listed
      Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction 2017, Winner
      Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award 2017, Winner
      McNally Robinson Book of the Year 2017, Winner
      Amazon.ca First Novel Award 2017, Winner
      Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Literature 2017, Short-listed
      Reviews
      Vermette is a staggering talent. Reading The Break is like a revelation; stunning, heartbreaking and glorious. From her exquisitely rendered characters to her fully realized world and the ratcheting tension, I couldn’t put it down. Absolutely riveting.
      The narrator of this story is dead. He misses feeling the skin of others, but he likes being about memory. It’s who we are siem. Katherena Vermette rendered the women of the North End gorgeous in her poetry: North End Love Songs. In The Break, she renders them sweet, beautiful battlers who love under the most horrific of circumstances. She points no fingers, just plots the story, person by person, memory by memory, until it is clear that we must give up the feeling of hopelessness that haunts the lives of these women. The Break is itself a beautiful love song of desire to live a full and rich life as cherished women — even when we cannot have that. We can hope. Resilient as the star world from which they arise these women reconcile with their lives without giving in to the horrors they have faced. Vermette captures the reader from beginning to end. She creates unforgettable characters with honor, respect and a deft hand. In so doing she holds the reader’s tender love in her capable hands and weaves us right into the story. The Break is unforgettable.
      The lives of the girls and women in The Break are not easy, but their voices — complex, urgent, and unsparing — lay bare what it means to survive, not only once, but multiple times, against the forces of private and national histories. Katherena Vermette is a tremendously gifted writer, a dazzling talent.
      Fiction is capable of helping us to comprehend difference and otherness, and The Break offers clear insight ino people struggling to secure a place in the world.
      Katherena Vermette’s poignant novel, set in Winnipeg’s North End, opens with a violent crime that becomes the backdrop for a story of great depth and compassion. This masterfully written narrative shifts among the intergenerational voices of the women of one extended Indigenous family. The Break is a powerful, persuasive novel about the strength and love that bind these women to each other and to the men in their lives. The traditions and wisdom of a community are honoured, as is the exquisite individual humanity of each character. Although this is a novel of social importance, it transcends politics, taking the reader on a journey to the heart of what it means for one person to care about another, survive trauma, and endure.
      The Break manages to be political even when it isn’t. It’s a book that explores social issues without ever preaching, or even seeming to be about them at all. It examines the only element of those issues that matter: their human impact. It’s astonishing in its empathy... She doesn’t pull her punches or dress up her truths. The Break leaves it all bare, and it demands to be read.
      Vermette is skilled at writing with a language that is conversational and comfortable and with a poetic ease that makes the hard things easier to swallow. The result is a book that is at times emotionally demanding, funny, suspenseful, and always engaging.
      Vermette offers us a dazzling portrayal of the patchwork quilt of pain and trauma that women inherit, of the "big and small half-stories that make up a life." These are the stories our mothers, sisters and friends have told us - the stories we absorb into our bloodstream until they might as well be our own. ..a stunning debut - a novel whose 10 voices, Greek chorus-like, span the full range of human possibility, from its lowest depths to its most brilliant triumphs, as they attempt to make sense of this tragic crime and of their own lives. "The Break" is an astonishing act of empathy, and its conclusion is heartbreaking. A thriller gives us easy answers - a victim and a perpetrator, good guys and bad guys. "The Break" gives us the actual mess of life.
      With adeptness and sensitivity, Vermette puts a human face to issues that are too-often misunderstood, and in so doing, she has written a book that is both one of the most important of the year and one of the best. Though Katherena Vermette is not an emerging writer – she has written seven children’s books and won a Governor General’s award for her poetry collection North End Love Songs – for many, this novel will be their first encounter. And it will be a revelation. Vermette is a fully matured literary talent confronting some of our society’s fundamental problems through understated prose that exudes wisdom and emotion. Every page hides beauty amid suffering; love winning out over violence and hate. Stella, at one point in the novel, thinks about “[a] story that didn’t happen to her but that she keeps and remembers.” The Break is like that; it is a story that will stick with you a long time.
      In Vermette’s poetic prose, The Break offers a stark portrayal of the adversity that plagues First Nations women in this country — and the strength that helps them survive.
      A visionary debut novel.
      Stunning . . . [Vermette] chooses her words with a poet’s precision.
      One of the great Indigenous novels.
      Katherena Vermette’s debut novel, The Break, takes a tough, close-up look at an extended family in Winnipeg, tackling along the way a side of female life that’s often hard to acknowledge: the violence of girls and women sometimes display towards other girls and women, and the power struggles among them. In The Break, the characters may be Métis, but the motivations and emotions are surely universal. This is an accomplished writer who will go far.
      A debut novel brimming with grace and wisdom, that puts the spotlight on the systemic violence being committed in our country, [The Break] is both a wake-up call and a call-to-arms. Vital.
      It’s a timely novel that will keep you turning the pages and make you think well after you’ve turned the final one.

      Praise for Katherena Vermette and The Break:

      FINALIST, 2017 BURT AWARD FOR FIRST NATIONS, INUIT, AND MÉTIS LITERATURE
      WINNER, AMAZON.CA FIRST NOVEL AWARD
      WINNER, MARGARET LAURENCE AWARD FOR FICTION
      WINNER, CAROL SHIELDS WINNIPEG BOOK AWARD
      WINNER, MCNALLY ROBINSON BOOK OF THE YEAR
      INDIGO HEATHER’S PICK
      CBC CANADA READS FINALIST
      NATIONAL BESTSELLER
      2016 ROGERS WRITERS’ TRUST FICTION PRIZE FINALIST
      2016 GOVERNOR GENERAL’S LITERARY AWARD FINALIST
      QUILL & QUIRE BOOK OF THE YEAR (2016)
      KOBO BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR (2016)
      49TH SHELF BOOKS OF THE YEAR (2016)
      GLOBE AND MAIL BEST 100 BOOKS OF 2016
      NATIONAL POST 99 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR (2016)
      WALRUS MAGAZINE THE BEST BOOKS OF 2016
      CBC BEST CANADIAN DEBUT NOVELS OF 2016


      “The lives of the girls and women in The Break are not easy, but their voices — complex, urgent, and unsparing — lay bare what it means to survive, not only once, but multiple times, against the forces of private and national histories. Katherena Vermette is a tremendously gifted writer, a dazzling talent.” — Madeleine Thien, author of Do Not Say We Have Nothing

      “The narrator of this story is dead. He misses feeling the skin of others, but he likes being about memory. It’s who we are siem. Katherena Vermette rendered the women of the North End gorgeous in her poetry: North End Love Songs. In The Break, she renders them sweet, beautiful battlers who love under the most horrific of circumstances. She points no fingers, just plots the story, person by person, memory by memory, until it is clear that we must give up the feeling of hopelessness that haunts the lives of these women. The Break is itself a beautiful love song of desire to live a full and rich life as cherished women — even when we cannot have that. We can hope. Resilient as the star world from which they arise these women reconcile with their lives without giving in to the horrors they have faced. Vermette captures the reader from beginning to end. She creates unforgettable characters with honor, respect and a deft hand. In so doing she holds the reader’s tender love in her capable hands and weaves us right into the story. The Break is unforgettable.” — Lee Maracle, author of Celia’s Song

      “Vermette is a staggering talent. Reading The Break is like a revelation; stunning, heartbreaking and glorious. From her exquisitely rendered characters to her fully realized world and the ratcheting tension, I couldn’t put it down. Absolutely riveting.” — Eden Robinson, author of Monkey Beach

      “In Vermette’s poetic prose, The Break offers a stark portrayal of the adversity that plagues First Nations women in this country — and the strength that helps them survive.” — Toronto Star

      “It’s unsurprising that a novel by a poet would be beautifully written . . . The Break is an astonishing act of empathy, and its conclusion is heartbreaking.” — Globe and Mail

      “With adeptness and sensitivity, Vermette puts a human face to issues that are too-often misunderstood, and in so doing, she has written a book that is both one of the most important of the year and one of the best. Though Katherena Vermette is not an emerging writer — she has written seven children’s books and won a Governor General’s award for her poetry collection North End Love Songs — for many, this novel will be their first encounter. And it will be a revelation. Vermette is a fully matured literary talent confronting some of our society’s fundamental problems through understated prose that exudes wisdom and emotion. Every page hides beauty amid suffering; love winning out over violence and hate. Stella, at one point in the novel, thinks about ‘[a] story that didn’t happen to her but that she keeps and remembers.’ The Break is like that; it is a story that will stick with you a long time.” — National Post

      The Break doesn’t read like an impressive first novel; it reads like a masterstroke from someone who knows what they’re doing . . . Vermette is skilled at writing with a language that is conversational and comfortable and with a poetic ease that makes the hard things easier to swallow. The result is a book that is at times emotionally demanding, funny, suspenseful, and always engaging.” The Winnipeg Review

      The Break manages to be political even when it isn’t. It’s a book that explores social issues without ever preaching, or even seeming to be about them at all. It examines the only element of those issues that matter: their human impact. It’s astonishing in its empathy.” — The Uniter

      The Break is a condemnation of reprehensible individual behaviour, but also of a broader society incapable of dealing effectively with problems of addiction, poverty, homelessness, and despair . . . The Break offers clear insight into people struggling to secure a place in the world.” — Quill & Quire

      “[A] brave and important novel.” — The Eastern Door

      “A visionary debut novel.” — CBC Books

      “Stunning . . . [Vermette] chooses her words with a poet’s precision.” — Literary Review of Canada

      “One of the great Indigenous novels” — First Nations Voice

      “Equal parts page-turner and stunning literary accomplishment.” — Open Book

      “This is a debut novel by the Governor General's Literary Award-winning Métis poet Katherena Vermette. The story takes place in Winnipeg`s North End. And it starts when Stella thinks she sees a violent assault taking place in a barren strip of land outside her window, known as The Break. Turns out, she is right. In fact, there is a threat of violence that hovers over all the women in the story, three generations of them, and the story is told in many voices. Katherena writes with empathy and understanding about people who are living with the pain of intergenerational trauma. The Winnipeg winter she evokes is cold and cruel. But there is such love, loyalty and support in this story. If you enjoy a gripping family saga, I would recommend The Break.” — Shelagh Rogers, CBC The Next Chapter

      “A debut novel brimming with grace and wisdom, that puts the spotlight on the systemic violence being committed in our country, [The Break] is both a wake-up call and a call-to-arms. Vital.” — Globe and Mail

      “Katherena Vermette’s debut novel, The Break, takes a tough, close-up look at an extended family in Winnipeg, tackling along the way a side of female life that’s often hard to acknowledge: the violence of girls and women sometimes display towards other girls and women, and the power struggles among them. In The Break, the characters may be Métis, but the motivations and emotions are surely universal. This is an accomplished writer who will go far.” — Margaret Atwood

      “This intimate and emotional look at their lives succeeds both as a novel and as a work of social justice.” — Booklist STARRED REVIEW

      “Vermette portrays a wide array of strong, complicated, absolutely believable women, and through them and their hardships offers readers sharp views of race and class issues. This is slice-of-life storytelling at its finest.” — Publishers WeeklySTARRED REVIEW

      Praise for North End Love Songs:

      WINNER, GOVERNOR GENERAL’S LITERARY AWARD FOR POETRY
      SELECTION, “On the Same Page” (Manitoba’s provincial book club)


      “In spare, minimalist language, North End Love Songs attends to the demands of Indigenous and European poetics, braiding an elegant journey that takes us from Winnipeg’s North End out into the world.” — Governor General’s Literary Award jury citation

      “In North End Love Songs, Katherena Vermette uses spare language and brief, telling sketches to illuminate the aviary of a prairie neighbourhood. Vermette’s love songs are unconventional and imminent, an examination and a celebration of family and community in all weathers, the beautiful as well as the less clement conditions. This collection is a very moving tribute, to the girls and the women, the boys and the men, and the loving trouble that has forever transpired between us.” — Joanne Arnott

      “The love that sits at the core of Katherena Vermette’s North End Love Songs is not simple or serene, but pugnacious and ferocious, something to be alternately fled from as well as embraced. … Vermette’s poetry explores a landscape that she at once rejects … but elsewhere speaks of with a great sense of love and longing….[T]hese North End Love Songs are loud and heightened, but also possess a surprising vulnerability. The collection’s subjects are often wounded and sometimes disappear, as both the inner and outer landscapes that Vermette explores have the tendency to turn hostile. …. North End Love Songs embraces the difficulties, the stumbling and the groping, and all the chilly, ugly elements than can nonetheless combine into a sense of place and home.” —The Walrus

      “From a mixed-blood Métis woman with Mennonite roots, Kate weaves a story that winds its way through the north end (Nor-tend) of Winnipeg. It’s a story of death, birth, survival, beauty, and ugliness; through it all there are glimmers of hope, strength, and a will to survive whatever this city throws at you.” — Duncan Mercredi

      “North End Love Songs … combines elegiac and fiercely ecstatic melodies to sing of a complicated love for a city, a river, and a neighbourhood. It is deep rooted in its location, yet will reach out to readers everywhere with its harsh and beautiful tunings of growing up female in Winnipeg's North End.” — Prairie Fire

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