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Fiction Literary


by (author) Ray Robertson

Initial publish date
Mar 2018
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2018
    List Price

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It’s 1979 and Tom Buzby is thirteen years old and living in the small working- class city of Chatham, Ontario. So far, so normal. Except that Tom’s dad is the local tattoo artist, his mother is a born-again former stripper who’s run off with the minister from the church where the pet store used to be, and his sister can’t wait to leave town for good. And everyone along his daily newspaper route looks at him a little differently, this boy who’s come back from the dead, who just might be the only one who understands the miraculous, heart-breaking mystery that is their lives.

Set in the year that real newspaper headlines told of North America’s hard turn to the right, 1979 offers a smalltown take on the buried lives of those who almost never make the news, and one boy’s attempt to make sense of it all.

About the author

Ray Robertson is the author of five novels: What Happened Later, Gently Down the Stream, Home Movies, Heroes, and Moody Food. The latter two received starred reviews from Quill & Quire, and the last made it to the top one hundred lists of The Globe and Mail and The Vancouver Sun. In 2004, Ray published Mental Hygiene, a collection of his articles, essays, and book reviews. Ray lives in Toronto, where he teaches Creative Writing at the University of Toronto.

Ray Robertson's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Praise for 1979

"[An] entertaining new novel." —Metro Toronto

"As Robertson traces Tom’s coming of age, he explores themes of innocence lost, wisdom gained and learning to forgive ... [Robertson's] talent as a writer shows in his clear prose and ability to create unique and believable characters." —Winnipeg Free Press

"Richly and sympathetically imagined...beautifully crafted, a rich and textured perspective of small town life, a nostalgic journey that resonates with the world of today." —Kerry Clare, Pickle Me This

"Brilliant...what [1979] does most brilliantly is show us how we’re conditioned (in literature and in life) to notice only the shiny objects, the noise, to watch the magician’s hand, even though we know full well that’s not where the magic is." —Matilda Magtree

"I'm always on board for a new Ray Robertson novel, and one wonders what will have to happen for him to get to the front rank of Canadian writing, as he so richly deserves…Ray has a light touch; writes clean, punchy sentences; and has a musicality and movement in his prose that is a singular gift. I'll drop pretty much anything to read whatever he writes." 49th Shelf

"Robertson has a knack for capturing the texture of adolescent life, and his version of small-town Ontario is vividly rendered."Quill & Quire

"One to watch for, if you enjoy small-town Canadian stories, is 1979 by Ray Robertson. Tom Buzby, a thirteen year-old living in Chatham, Ontario, narrates this sweetly nostalgic coming-of-age story about Tom's developing interest in girls, his understanding of his parent's divorce, and his discovery of various rock bands (you could make an amazing playlist from records mentioned in this novel). I also loved reading about the dynamic between Tom and his sister, Julie. What makes this story a true gem however, is how Tom’s narrative is interspersed with a glimpse into the very private lives of his neighbours, including the people whose papers he delivers, and those whose paths cross his for other reasons." Ottawa Public Library

"Robertson does an impeccable job."—Full Disclosure Praise for Ray Robertson

"Sharp-tongued … as Robertson ponders family and home as well as ‘what it means to love someone and to lose someone and to have to go on living anyway,’ he presents an intriguing character whose very real troubles are offset by bright flashes of hope."—Publishers Weekly

"… filled with sly wit and keen observation … an exceptional novel by one of the country’s finest literary voices."—The National Post

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