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Reading by Lightning

The Reader's Guide Edition

by Joan Thomas
afterword by Lisa Moore

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coming of age, literary, sagas
list price: $21.99
also available: Paperback eBook
category: Fiction
published: 2011
  • Short-listed, McNally Robinson Book of the Year
  • Short-listed, Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction
  • Short-listed, Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book
  • Winner, Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book
  • Winner, On the Same Page, Manitoba Reads
  • Long-listed, International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
  • Winner, Amazon.ca First Novel Award
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Winner, Commonwealth Writers Prize, Canada and the Caribbean, Amazon.ca First Novel Award, and On the Same Page, Manitoba Reads
Shortlisted, Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book, Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction, and McNally Robinson Book of the Year
Longlisted, IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

For Lily Piper, life on the prairie is spare, austere, and tucked in. She is restless — not the daughter she feels her mother wants. When puberty hits, an abrupt shift in fate has Lily on her way to England to care for her aging grandmother. There, she experiences life in all its ambiguity, until she is called home to face a future she thought she had escaped. Thomas's prose is intimate, elegant and devastatingly funny; her engrossing story of Lily Piper tells us something about how we make sense of the future when the future is something we can hardly imagine.

Reading by Lightning, Joan Thomas's long-awaited first novel, took readers by storm. A year after its publication, it had won numerous awards, found a large readership, and been selected by popular vote for On the Same Page, Manitoba's one book reading experience. Goose Lane is pleased to reissue Reading by Lightning in this reader's guide edition, complete with an afterword, an interview with the author, extended biographical notes, and more.

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Editorial Reviews

"Lily Piper's search for home — a place where life can be at once familiar and momentous — is utterly absorbing, told with consummate grace."

— Beth Powning

"The book is destined to be classic of Canadian Prairie Literature. With writing as fresh and as beautiful as a Prairie landscape, Joan Thomas weaves a tale of mythical proportions."

— <i>Blog Business World</i>

"A stunning prairie novel... The dialogue between characters blends emotions and words in an alchemy of tension... If Joan Thomas is an unknown name to you, that's about to change."

— <i>Winnipeg Free Press</i>

"Breathtakingly good."

— Nikki Gemmell

"Joan Thomas's writing is so precise, so surprising, that on any given page you might stop, only to read the words again slowly."

— Kristen Den Hartog

"Thomas's finely nuanced sensibility variously evokes Austen, Alice Munro, and Richard B. Wright. Most first-time novelists strain for the gold ring; Joan Thomas grabs it effortlessly in this wonderful book."

— <I>Quill & Quire</i>

"In fresh, exhilarating, masterful prose, Joan Thomas's novel explores the question of belonging. The wit, the wisdom and the quality and generosity of psychological insight make Reading by Lightning the unanimous selection of the judges."

— Commonwealth Writers Prize jury, 2009

"Thomas writes like an angel... Her prose is carefully considered, troubled, alert to the texture of experience... singular, thoughtful writing that makes the world seem strange."

— <i>Globe and Mail</i>

"We experience this writing with our noses and ears and eyes and fingertips."

— Lisa Moore

"Like the man in the whirlwind, the reader of this fine novel is snatched away, deposited in a different place — and profoundly changed by the experience."

— <i>The Literary Review of Canada</i>

"A compelling story burnished by spare and powerful writing. This is a fabulous novel, full of grace and delicious discovery, haunted by the flavour of memory and the prairies in World War II."

— Amazon.ca First Novel Award jury, 2009

"Thomas's novel is a beautifully described and carefully detailed intersection of competing landscapes. ... Precise, complex, and elegant, Reading by Lightning flashes with wit and insight and illuminates our understanding of what it means to be a sojourner in all the familiar places."

— <i>Prairie Fire Magazine</i>
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About the Authors

Joan Thomas

JOAN THOMAS’s first novel, Reading by Lightning, won the Amazon First Novel Award and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book, and was longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, among other honours. Curiosity, her second novel, was also nominated for the IMPAC Award and was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Her most recent novel, The Opening Sky, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction. Thomas was the 2014 recipient of the Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Prize for a writer in mid-career. She lives in Winnipeg.

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Lisa Moore

Lisa Moore is the acclaimed author of the novels Caught, February, and Alligator. Caught was a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the Scotiabank Giller Prize and is now a major CBC television series starring Allan Hawco. February won CBC’s Canada Reads competition, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and was named a New Yorker Best Book of the Year and a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book. Alligator was a finalist for the Scotia Bank Giller Prize, won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Canada and the Caribbean region), and was a national bestseller. Her story collection Open was a finalist for the Scotia Bank Giller Prize and a national bestseller. Her most recent work is a collection of short stories called Something for Everyone. Lisa lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

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