Advanced Search

Add Best Comp

Add comparable title

Remove comparable title

January 2022 Canadian Fiction

The Swells
By (author): Will Aitken
Will Aitken


House of Anansi Press - Toronto



Product Form:


Form detail:

Paperback , Trade


General Trade
Jan 04, 2022
$19.99 CAD


8in x 5.25 in | 0.29 kg

Page Count:

176 pages
House of Anansi Press Inc
House of Anansi Press
FICTION / Literary
  • Short Description

In this darkly hilarious satire by the inimitable Will Aitken, class war erupts aboard a luxury cruise ship.

In this darkly hilarious satire by the inimitable Will Aitken, class war erupts aboard a luxury cruise ship.

A boatload of white privilege, The Emerald Tranquility is the most luxurious cruise liner afloat, its passengers some of the richest people in the world. Meanwhile the ship’s crew, overworked and underpaid, live packed tightly together in airless below-deck cabins. The passengers encounter a great number of cataclysms at sea, but no matter the catastrophe, the great ship always sails on.

Briony, a globetrotting luxury travel writer, emulates the rich — though homeless and penniless herself — as she hops from gig to all-expenses-paid gig. On her own personal voyage, she encounters Mrs. Moore, an enigmatic woman of advanced age clandestinely fomenting a mutiny on this bountiful ship.

With the captain overthrown, roles quickly reverse: the crew become the ship’s new leisure class and the aged passengers learn how to mop floors and scrub toilets. Confused and terrified by the resultant chaos, Briony must decide which lot to cast her fate with in this savage satire of the way we live now.

  • The Swells is a hilarious modern satire that draws readers’ attention to critical social issues, perfect for readers of French Exit and My Year of Rest and Relaxation. 

  • Will Aitken is a widely acclaimed and influential author. Along with writing several successful books, he also co-founded Montreal’s first LGBTQ/feminist/anarchist/non-sexist children’s bookstore.

  • The Swells has a strong nonfiction hook as well: Aitken understands this cruise-ship setting very well as he specialized in luxury-travel journalism for seventeen years.

WILL AITKEN has written three previous novels — Realia, A Visit Home, and Terre Haute — and the non-fiction books Death in Venice: A Queer Film Classic and Antigone Undone: Juliette Binoche, Anne Carson, Ivo van Hove, and the Art of Resistance, which was shortlisted for the Hilary

Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction. He lives in Montreal.

The Swells is a brilliantly acerbic upstairs-downstairs satire of class and privilege on the high seas. Will Aitken is a singular voice in our literary landscape.

- Jordan Tannahill, author of Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist The Listeners

Careful not to spill that flute of Veuve Clicquot on your Jimmy Choos as you’re swept away on the waves of this riotous high-seas satire where the 1 percent become the 99. The delectable queer lovechild of Condé Nast Traveller, The Great Gatsby, Karl Marx, and P. G. Wodehouse, The Swells asks if revolution is like rearranging diamonds and deckchairs on the Titanic, if utopia is the worst form of society except for all the others. Strap on your Mae West: this voyage is an archly, artfully, uproariously breezy yet incisive dark delight.

- Gary Barwin, author of Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist Yiddish for Pirates and Nothing the Same, Everything Haunted

In The Swells, Will Aitken’s brilliant new novel, the most luxurious cruise ship on the seas floats right-side up, but the passengers and crew are turned upside down. On board, a class mutiny yields an eviscerating yet hilarious reversal of fortunes and a stinging, darkly veiled satire that left me laughing and thinking long after I turned the last page.

- Terry Fallis, two-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour

of 21

Forgotten Password

Please enter your email address and click submit. An email with instructions on resetting your password will be sent to you.

Forgotten Password

An email has been sent out with instructions for resetting your password.