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International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2013

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Congratulations to the Canadians nominated for the award. http://www.impacdublinaward.ie/nominees/
419

419

A Novel
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover

From internationally bestselling travel writer Will Ferguson, author of Happiness™ and Spanish Fly, comes a novel both epic in its sweep and intimate in its portrayal of human endurance.
A car tumbles through darkness down a snowy ravine.
A woman without a name walks out of a dust storm in sub-Saharan Africa.
And in the seething heat of Lagos City, a criminal cartel scours the Internet, looking for victims.
Lives intersect. Worlds collide. And it all begins with a single email: “Dear Sir …

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The Headmaster's Wager

The Headmaster's Wager

edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover
tagged : literary

The headmaster of the most respected English school in Saigon, Percival Chen is also a bon vivant, a compulsive gambler and an incorrigible womanizer. Fiercely proud of his Chinese heritage, and quick to spot the business opportunities rife in a divided country, Percival devotedly ignores all news of the fighting that swirls around him, choosing instead to read the faces of his opponents at high-stakes mahjong tables.

When his only son gets in trouble with the Vietnamese authorities, Percival fac …

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Excerpt

1930, Shantou, China
On a winter night shortly after the New Year festivities, Chen Kai sat on the edge of the family kang, the brick bed. He settled the blanket around his son.
 
“Gwai jai,” he said. Well-behaved boy. “Close your eyes.”
 
“Sit with me?” said Chen Pie Sou with a yawn. “You promised . . .”
 
“I will.” He would stay until the boy slept. A little more delay. Muy Fa had insisted that Chen Kai remain for the New Year celebration, never mind that the coins from their poor autumn’s harvest were almost gone. What few coins there were, after the landlord had taken his portion of the crop. Chen Kai had conceded that it would be bad luck to leave just before the holiday and agreed to stay a little longer. Now, a few feet away in their one-room home, Muy Fa scraped the tough skin of rice from the bottom of the pot for the next day’s porridge. Chen Kai smoothed his son’s hair. “If you are to grow big and strong, you must sleep.” Chen Pie Sou was as tall as his father’s waist. He was as big as any boy of his age, for his parents often accepted the knot of hunger in order to feed him.
 
“Why . . .” A hesitation, the choosing of words. “Why must I grow big and strong?” A fear in the tone, of his father’s absence.
 
“For your ma, and your ba.” Chen Kai tousled his son’s hair. “For China.”
 
Later that night, Chen Kai was to board a train. In the morning, he would arrive at the coast, locate a particular boat. A village connection, a cheap passage without a berth. Then, a week on the water to reach Cholon. This place in Indochina was just like China, he had heard, except with money to be made, from both the Annamese and their French rulers.
 
With his thick, tough fingers, Chen Kai fumbled to undo the charm that hung from his neck. He reached around his son’s neck as if to embrace him, carefully knotted the strong braid of pig gut. Chen Pie Sou searched his chest, and his hand recognized the family good luck charm, a small, rough lump of gold.
 
“Why does it have no design, ba?” said Chen Pie Sou. He was surprised to be given this valuable item. He knew the charm. He also knew the answers to his questions. “Why is it just a lump?”
 
“Your ancestor found it this way. He left it untouched rather than having it struck or moulded, to remind his descendants that one never knows the form wealth takes, or how luck arrives.”
 
“How did he find it?” Chen Pie Sou rubbed its blunted angles and soft contours with the tips of his fingers. It was the size of a small lotus seed. He pressed it into the soft place in his own throat. Nearby, his mother, Muy Fa, sighed with impatience. Chen Pie Sou liked to ask certain things, despite knowing the response.
 
“He pried it from the Gold Mountain in a faraway country. This was the first nugget. Much more was unearthed, in a spot everyone had abandoned. The luck of this wealth brought him home.”
 
It was cool against Chen Pie Sou’s skin. Now, his right hand gripped his father’s. “Where you are going, are there mountains of gold?”
 
“That is why I’m going.”
 
“Ba,” said Chen Pie Sou intently. He pulled at the charm. “Take this with you, so that its luck will keep you safe and bring you home.”
 
“I don’t need it. I’ve worn it for so long that the luck has worked its way into my skin. Close your eyes.”
 
“I’m not sleepy.”
 
“But in your dreams, you will come with me. To the Gold Mountain.”
 
Chen Kai added a heaping shovel of coal to the embers beneath the kang. Muy Fa, who always complained that her husband indulged their son, made a soft noise with her tongue.
 
“Don’t worry, dear wife. I will find so much money in Indochina that we will pile coal into the kang all night long,” boasted Chen Kai. “And we will throw out the burned rice in the bottom of that pot.”
 
“You will come back soon?” asked Chen Pie Sou, his eyes closed now. Chen Kai squeezed his son’s shoulder. “Sometimes, you may think I am far away. Not so. Whenever you sleep, I am with you in your dreams.”
 
 “But when will you return?”
 
“As soon as I have collected enough gold.”
 
“How much?”
 
“Enough . . . at the first moment I have enough to provide for you, and your mother, I will be on my way home.”
 
The boy seized his father’s hand in both of his. “Ba, I’m scared.”
 
“Of what?”
 
“That you won’t come back.”
 
“Shh . . . there is nothing to worry about. Your ancestor went to the Gold Mountain, and this lump around your neck proves that he came back. As soon as I have enough to provide for you, I will be back.”
 
As if startled, the boy opened his eyes wide and struggled with the nugget, anxious to get it off. “Father, take this with you. If you already have this gold, it will not take you as long to collect what you need.”
 
“Gwai jai,” said Chen Kai, and he calmed the boy’s hands with his own. “I will find so much that such a little bit would not delay me.”
 
“You will sit with me?”
 
“Until you are asleep. As I promised.” Chen Kai stroked his son’s head.
 
“Then you will see me in your dreams.”
 
Chen Pie Sou tried to keep his eyelids from falling shut. They became heavy, and the kang was especially warm that night. When he woke into the cold, bright morning, his breath was like the clouds of a speeding train, wispy white—vanishing. His mother was making the breakfast porridge, her face tear-stained. His father was gone.
 
The boy yelled, “Ma! It’s my fault!”
 
She jumped. “What is it?”
 
“I’m sorry,” sobbed Chen Pie Sou. “I meant to stay awake. If I had, ba would still be here.”
 
1966, Cholon, Vietnam
It was a new morning towards the end of the dry season, early enough that the fleeting shade still graced the third-floor balcony of the Percival Chen English Academy. Chen Pie Sou, who was known to most as Headmaster Percival Chen, and his son, Dai Jai, sat at the small wicker breakfast table, looking out at La Place de la Libération.
 
The market girls’ bright silk ao dais glistened. First light had begun to sweep across their bundles of cut vegetables for sale, the noodle sellers’ carts, the flame trees that shaded the sidewalks, and the flower sellers’ arrangements of blooms. Percival had just told Dai Jai that he wished to discuss a concerning matter, and now, as the morning drew itself out a little further, was allowing his son some time to anticipate what this might be.
 
Looking at his son was like examining himself at that age. At sixteen, Dai Jai had a man’s height, and, Percival assumed, certain desires. A boy’s impatience for their satisfaction was to be expected. Like Percival, Dai Jai had probing eyes, and full lips. Percival often thought it might be his lips which gave him such strong appetites, and wondered if it was the same for his son. Between Dai Jai’s eyebrows, and traced from his nose around the corners of his mouth, the beginnings of creases sometimes appeared. These so faint that no one but his father might notice, or recognize as the earliest outline of what would one day become a useful mask. Controlled, these lines would be a mask to show other men, hinting at insight regarding a delicate situation, implying an unspoken decision, or signifying nothing except to leave them guessing. Such creases were long since worn into the fabric of Percival’s face, but on Dai Jai they could still vanish—to show the smooth skin of a boy’s surprise. Now, they were slightly inflected, revealed Dai Jai’s worry over what his father might want to discuss, and concealed nothing from Percival. That was as it should be. Already, Percival regretted that he needed to reprimand his son, but in such a situation, it was the duty of a good father.

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Anna From Away

Anna From Away

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Hardcover
tagged : literary

“Subtle, powerful, seductive and suspenseful, this is anovel that will steal your heart away.” —THE CHRONICLE HERALD

When Anna Starling flees a dissolving marriage in California to save herself and her artistic career in Cape Breton, her life intersects with that of Red Murdock, a cabinetmaker who has recently lost the great love of his life, Rosaire. Surrounded by old ghosts and echoes of those who once lived in this isolated, depleted community, Anna and Murdock discover that the present …

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People Park

People Park

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Shortlisted for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, and selected as an Amazon.ca Best Book

It's the Silver Jubilee of People Park, an urban experiment conceived by a radical mayor and zealously policed by the testosterone-powered New Fraternal League of Men. To celebrate, the insular island city has engaged the illustrationist Raven, who promises to deliver the most astonishing spectacle its residents have ever seen. As the entire island comes together for the event, we meet an unforgettable cross-s …

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A Blessed Snarl

A Blessed Snarl

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Patrick Wiseman moved his wife and son back to Newfoundland to start a new Pentecostal church, but when his wife Anne leaves him for a man she meets on Facebook and his son Hab moves in with his girlfriend Natalie—a burgeoning alcoholic with a fiery past—Patrick takes a suicidal leap of faith that brings him face to face with his estranged father Des, a Catholic mystic who might be covering up an old crime. While Patrick wrestles to come to terms with his failed marriage, Hab struggles to ha …

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Above All Things

Above All Things

edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback Hardcover

The Paris Wife meets Into Thin Air in this breathtaking novel of love and obsession, which tells the story of George Mallory’s legendary attempt to be the first man to conquer Mount Everest – and of the remarkable woman he left behind to await news of his fate.
 
A captivating blend of historical fact and imaginative fiction, Above All Things moves seamlessly between the epic story of Mallory’s final expedition and a moving account of a day in the life of his wife, Ruth. Through George’ …

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The Purchase

The Purchase

edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback Paperback
tagged : literary

In 1798, Daniel Dickinson, a young Quaker father and widower, leaves his home in Pennsylvania to establish a new life. He sets out with two horses, a wagonful of belongings, his five children, a 15-year-old orphan wife, and a few land warrants for his future homestead. When Daniel suddenly trades a horse for a young slave, Onesimus, it sets in motion a struggle in his conscience that will taint his life forever, and sets in motion a chain of events that lead to two murders and the family's stran …

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Matter of Life and Death or Something, A

Matter of Life and Death or Something, A

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
tagged : literary

The big-hearted story of a ten-year-old boy, a notebook and the meaning of the universe.

Even though he's only ten years old, Arthur Williams knows lots of things for sure. He knows all about trilobites, and bridge, and that he doesn't want to be Victoria Brown's boyfriend, and that tapping maple trees causes them excruciating pain. He knows his real dad is probably flying a hot-air balloon across the Pacific, or paving a city with moss. And he knows that Simon, the guy who pretends to be his dad …

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