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Author of the Month

André Alexis was born in Trinidad, raised in Ottawa and now lives in Toronto. His most recent novel, Fifteen Dogs, which uses man’s best friend to explore what it means to be human, won the 2015 Giller Prize. Alexis has been a writer to reckon with right from the start of his literary career. His debut novel, Childhood (1998), won the Books in Canada First Novel Award, the Trillium Book Award, and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and the Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. His other books include Asylum, Beauty and SadnessIngrid & the Wolf, and Despair and Other Stories of Ottawa. In 2014 he published Pastoral, which was nominated for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and is the first in a planned series of five novels on philosophical themes, Fifteen Dogs being the second.

His new novel, The Hidden Keys, is the third in the series. It opens in the Green Dolphin, a bar of ill repute, when Tancred Palmieri, a thief with elegant and erudite tastes, meets Willow Azarian. Willow is an aging heroin addict whose wealthy father has recently passed away. She enlists Palmieri to cheat her siblings out of their inheritance by stealing the clues their father left as to its whereabouts in a tale that questions what it means to be honourable, what it means to be faithful and what it means to sin.

Join us for An Evening with André Alexis in Winnipeg on Monday, October 24th, at 7:00 PM.


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A is a work of fiction in which André Alexis presents the compelling narrative of Alexander Baddeley, a Toronto book reviewer obsessed with the work of the elusive and mythical poet Avery Andrews. Baddeley is in awe with Andrews's ability as a poet - more than anything he wants to understand the inspiration behind his work - so much so that, following in the footsteps of countless pilgrims throughout literary history, Baddeley actually tracks Andrews down thinking that meeting his literary hero will provide some answers. Their meeting results in a meditation and a revelation about the creative act itself that generates more and more questions about what it means to be "inspired." Alexis further develops this narrative through a reflection in essay form presented as an annex that build layers of thought upon not only the original narrative, but provides Alexis's own motives (and perhaps, obsessions) behind writing A.


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Alexis's long-awaited second novel follows his award-winning Childhood.Set in Ottawa during the Mulroney years, Asylum is André Alexis's sweeping, edged-in-satire, yet deeply serious tale of intertwined lives and fortunes, of politics and vain ambition, of the building of a magnificent prison, of human fallibility, of the search for refuge, of the impossibility of love, and of finding home. Whether he is taking us into the machinations of a government office or into the mysterious workings of the human heart, Alexis is always alert to the humour and the profound truth of any situation. His cast of characters is eccentric and unforgettable, all recognizable in one way or another as aspects of ourselves or people we know well. At the centre of the story, which covers almost a decade, is a visionary project to build an ideal prison, a perfect metaphor for the purest aspects of artistic ambition and for all that is great and flawed in the world.André Alexis is a true original, one of the most talented and astute writers writing in Canada today. This dazzling novel is filled with tragedy, dry wit, intellectual grist. It is playful, linguistically accomplished, and psychologically profound. Its yearnings constitute the highest level of human concerns and pursuits. Alexis has written The Great Canadian Novel, with a twist.From the Hardcover edition.


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Uniquely imagined and vividly evoked, André Alexis's prize-winning novel chronicles the childhood - or perhaps the loss of childhood - of Thomas MacMillan, who sets out to piece together the early years of his life. Raised in a Southern Ontario town in the '50s and '60s, Thomas is abandoned to the care of his eccentric Trinidadian grandmother. Then, at ten, his mother, Katarina, reclaims him, taking him to Ottawa and to the once-splendid Victorian home of Henry Wing, a gentle conjurer whose love of science and the imagination becomes an important legacy. But is he Thomas's father? Moving and wryly humorous, Childhood tells the story of a man's quest for what is lost, bringing him closer to the truth about himself.

Despair and Other Stories of Ottawa

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These eight stories reveal a world that's both recognizable and strange: cities of anxiety and violence, where quiet inhabitants lead outwardly banal lives that conceal sinister interiors. The premises, both fantastic and surreal, are also eerily plausible; they often follow the logic of dreams where the real can appear in disguise. Though geographically rooted, the setting - from Ottawa to Toronto and the South of France - take on an ephemeral dimension: the geography is of the subconscious.With his darkly philosophical bent and sly humour, Alexis has fashioned an underworld and limned it with light. Despair quakes with life and sings with the imaginative brilliance of one of the most accomplished new talents writing today.

Fifteen Dogs

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Bookseller Shelley Macbeth of Blue Heron Books (Uxbridge, ON), recommended Andre Alexis 's Fifteen Dogs on 49th Shelf , and gushed that the novel was her pick for a Giller nomination this year! " An utterly convincing and moving look at the beauty and perils of consciousness. WINNER OF THE 2015 GILLER PRIZE WINNER OF THE 2015 ROGERS WRITERS' TRUST FICTION PRIZE FINALIST FOR THE 2015 TORONTO BOOK AWARDS - I wonder, said Hermes, what it would be like if animals had human intelligence. - I'll wager a year's servitude, answered Apollo, that animals - any animal you like - would be even more unhappy than humans are, if they were given human intelligence. And so it begins: a bet between the gods Hermes and Apollo leads them to grant human consciousness and language to a group of dogs overnighting at a Toronto veterinary clinic. Suddenly capable of more complex thought, the pack is torn between those who resist the new ways of thinking, preferring the old 'dog'ways, and those who embrace the change. The gods watch from above as the dogs venture into their newly unfamiliar world, as they become divided among themselves, as each struggles with new thoughts and feelings. Wily Benjy moves from home to home, Prince becomes a poet, and Majnoun forges a relationship with a kind couple that stops even the Fates in their tracks. Andre Alexis's contemporary take on the apologue offers an utterly compelling and affecting look at the beauty and perils of human consciousness. By turns meditative and devastating, charming and strange, Fifteen Dogs shows you can teach an old genre new tricks.

The Hidden Keys

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Giller Prize winner Andrà Alexis's contemporary take on the quest narrative is an instant classic. Parkdale's Green Dolphin is a bar of ill repute, and it is there that Tancred Palmieri, a thief with elegant and erudite tastes, meets Willow Azarian, an aging heroin addict. She reveals to Tancred that her very wealthy father has recently passed away, leaving each of his five children a mysterious object that provides one clue to the whereabouts of a large inheritance. Willow enlists Tancred to steal these objects from her siblings and help her solve the puzzle. A Japanese screen, a painting that plays music, a bottle of aquavit, a framed poem and a model of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater: Tancred is lured in to this beguiling quest, and even though Willow dies before the puzzle is solved, he presses on. As he tracks down the treasure, he must enlist the helpof Alexander von Wurfel, conceptual artist and taxidermist to the wealthy, and fend off Willow's heroin dealers, a young albino named 'Nigger' Colby and his sidekick, Sigismund 'Freud' Luxemburg, a clubfooted psychopath, both of whom are eager to get their hands on this supposed pot of gold. And he must mislead Detective Daniel Mandelshtam, his most adored friend. Inspired by a reading of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, The Hidden Keys questions what it means to be honorable, what it means to be faithful and what it means to sin.


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Shortlisted for the Writers' Trust of Canada Fiction Prize One of The Globe and Mail 's Globe 100: Best Books of 2014 There were plans for an official welcome. It was to take place the following Sunday. But those who came to the rectory on Father Pennant's second day were the ones who could not resist seeing him sooner. Here was the man to whomthey would confess the darkest things. It was important to feel him out. Mrs. Young, for instance, after she had watched him eat a piece of her macaroni pie, quietly asked what he thought of adultery. Andre Alexis brings a modern sensibility and a new liveliness to an age-old genre, the pastoral. For his very first parish, Father Christopher Pennant is sent to the sleepy town of Barrow. With more sheep than people, it is sleepily bucolic - too much Barrow Brew on Barrow Day is the rowdiest it gets. But things aren't so idyllic for Liz Denny, whose fiance doesn't want to choose between Liz and his more worldly lover Jane, or for Father Pennant himself, whose faith is profoundly shaken by the miracles he witnesses - a mayor walking on water, intelligent gypsy moths and a talking sheep. Praise for Pastoral : 'This novel's pleasures indeed include a rich sense of place, but that sense comes without sentimentality, and that place is something one might just as easily flee from as call home. Pastoral beauty is certainly on offer, but Alexis' fluid, evocative descriptions of the rural wonders that surround Barrow are much more than nostalgia for a childhood idyll or mere reverie for revere's sake - they constitute the very heart of Pastoral 's unresolved/unresolvable crisis of faith.' - National Post 'It's been clear since his debut novel, Childhood, that Alexis is one of our most distinctive and exacting prose stylists, and at its highest pitch, as in the breathtaking final paragraph, these are sentences that attain the level of the best music.' - Montreal Gazette