A novel about the simple truths that transcend species, about the meaning of family, the lure of belonging, and the capacity for survival
Walt and Judy are deeply in love, but Judy longs for a child and finds that life is holding few surprises. Walt measures all beauty against that of Judy but doesn’t want her eyes to get any sadder. They stay side by side and search for distractions, realizing they may never have a family. On a day when hope seems low, Walt finds an unexpected opportunity in the pages of Life magazine. Soon they are welcoming Looee, born in Sierra Leone, into their home in the hills of Vermont , where they come to regard him as their son.
Looee is a hurricane in clothes; the house is torn apart. Judy asks questions of herself and is judged by friends and strangers. But the three of them eventually find their rhythm and settle into their own version of love and life between four walls. Until the night their unique family is changed forever.
Hundreds of miles away, at the Girdish Institute in Florida , a group of chimpanzees has been studied for decades. There is proof that chimps have memories and solve problems, that they can learn language and need friends. They are political, altruistic; they get angry and forgive. Among them is Mr. Ghoul, who has grown up in a world of rivals, sex and unpredictable loss. As Looee and Mr. Ghoul ’s distant but parallel paths through childhood, adolescence and early middle age converge, a new experience of family is formed.
Told simultaneously from the perspective of humans and chimpanzees, A Beautiful Truth is an inventive, thrillingly intelligent and heartfelt novel about parenthood, friendship, loneliness and strength, about the things we hold sacred as humans and the facts that link us inevitably to a nature we too often ignore.
Colin McAdam has written for Harpers’ and The Walrus. His novel Some Great Thing won the Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel Award and was nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Award, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in the U.K. His second novel, Fall, was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and awarded the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennon Prize. He lives in Toronto.
"McAdam's language reaches into that mysterious place where a word ends and a feeling begins. A Beautiful Truth is a story about love and beauty and our dreams for our children and our inescapable loneliness. The characters, human and animal, are sad and honest and true. I could not put this novel down, and only when I finished it could I breathe again." - Kim Echlin, Author of The Disappeared
“One of the most inventive writers in Canada.” - National Post
"[A] gut punch of a novel... This is a book that's going to get a lot of people talking. And crying." - Toronto Life
“In prose both strange and startling, Colin McAdam asks what, if anything, separates the human from the animal; he answers with heartbreaking honesty. This is the kind of book you finish just to pick back up again, if only to figure out how he pulled it off.” - Writers Trust Fiction Prize jury citation
“Haunting. Heartbreaking. A Curious George for grown-ups, it is a tale of empathy and honesty, deftly told and beautifully rendered.” - Will Ferguson, Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author of 419
“In his previous novel, the Scotiabank Giller Prize-shortlisted Fall, McAdam showed himself willing to experiment and take chances with style and narrative technique. . . A Beautiful Truth is just as edgy but is a more sure-handed and mature work, expertly weaving together shifts in voice and point of view and making use of a poetic language full of direct, sensual metaphors.” - Toronto Star
“A moving and linguistically inventive novel that examines the curious bond between humans and apes.” - Regina Leader Post
“Packs a huge emotional punch. McAdam has effected a true leap of empathy, and in the process pulled off something often claimed to the point of cliché but very rarely achieved in fiction: He makes us see the world and ourselves in a new way.” - Montreal Gazette
“His voice is original and fiercely intelligent. It somehow possesses this combination of hard-won world weariness and exuberant, unshakeable faith in a better world. The essence of his prose, for me, is contradiction … my favourite thing … contradictions and layers and layers of meaning. He exposes all of our treacherous and base instincts but with the unspoken caveat that, in spite of our horrible human ways, we must always, relentlessly, struggle to love each other. Aside from McAdam’s great talents as a storyteller it’s this feeling I get from his work that moves me profoundly and that I strive to duplicate in my own writing.” - Miriam Toews, author of A Complicated Kindness