Ballistics is a family drama with two narratives, both set in Western Canada, thirty years apart. In 2003, while the firestorm rages through Kelowna, Alan West is asked to rescue his estranged father, Jack, who abandoned him as a baby. Alan’s grandfather has suffered a heart attack and wants to see his son once more before he dies. So Alan sets off with Puck, a three-legged English mastiff, and a boxful of photographs, newspaper clippings, and other items that once belonged to his father. His quest takes him deeper and deeper into the fires, and he encounters people from his past he never knew: his mother, his father, and a dangerous American who knows far more than he ever lets on.
Unbeknownst to Alan, he is tracing a path through events that were initiated years before, in 1969, by American veteran Archer Cole, who deserts the army rather than return to Vietnam and flees to Canada. Archer seeks shelter in Invermere, B.C., where he is given refuge by Alan’s grandfather and tries to build a new life from the ashes of his old one. Together with his daughter, Linnea, he regrettably—though not altogether unwillingly—sets in motion the events that will shatter two families and unleash a cycle of violence and longing that come to a climax decades later.
Ballistics looks at the bonds that tie a family together; it looks at the relationship between sons and fathers, real and surrogate, and the wounds that can linger for generations when that relationship is betrayed.
D.W. Wilson was born and raised in the small towns of the Kootenay Valley, British Columbia. He is the recipient of the University of East Anglia's inaugural Man Booker Prize Scholarship—the most prestigious award available to students in the M.A. program. His fiction and essays have appeared in literary magazines across Canada, Ireland, and the U.K., and he is the youngest-ever winner of the BBC’s National Short Story Prize. He lives in Cambridge.
“One of the finest novels of the year.” - Georgia Straight
“Ballistics is a lean, powerful book about quiet, emotional people. It animates a world that any smalltown North American could identify in a moment, yet it transcends this environment to evoke something universal: how people live through loss, and how they talk about what matters, or don't.” - The Guardian
“Like the Boss, Wilson takes as his subjects working men who prefer outdoor pursuits and manual labour and who tend to blow off steam by drinking beer and fighting. . . this is a man’s, man’s book.” - Globe and Mail
“With this new book, Wilson stakes his claim for the title of manliest Canadian literary-fiction author. . . Its haunted men and matter-of-fact violence may call to mind the work of such American authors as Richard Ford and Russell Banks.” - Winnipeg Free Press
“Lean Richard Ford and Raymond Carver-like prose. A tough debut.” - Sharp Magazine