Shortlisted, Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction
Patricia Robertson’s new collection of short fiction, Hour of the Crab, is a work of insight and mastery, each story demonstrating an original vision, intriguing characters, and sophisticated skill.
Readers will travel with Robertson’s vivid characters, sharing their journeys, their challenges, their complicated choices. They will also discover other worlds — from an eleventh-century monastery in France to a near-future British Columbia where apocalyptic wildfires seem to be never-ending.
A young woman discovers the corpse of a Moroccan teenager washed up on the beach in southern Spain and sets out to find his family in a gesture that destabilizes her own. An international aid worker shares her house with the very real ghost of a gardener’s boy. The last speaker of a dying Norse-like language carves the words he remembers into the stones of his house.
Urgent and evocative, immersed in issues of our time, the stories of Hour of the Crab reveal Robertson’s ability to draw in her readers with the heightened realism of her imagined worlds.
About the author
Patricia Robertson was born in England, near Manchester, and emigrated to Kitamat, B.C. when she was still very young. A City of Orphans is her first collection, though several of these stories have previously appeared in Quarry, Matrix, and the Second Macmillan Anthology.
City of Orphans was a finalist for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize -- awarded to the best novel or story collection written by a British Columbia writer. Past winners have included Blue Husbands by Don Dickinson (1992) and Bad Imaginings by Caroline Adderson (1994). City of Orphans has been praised for its sensual and haunting stories and for Patricia Robertson's accomplished and sophisticated writing.
Patricia Robertson currently teaches at Yukon College in Whitehorse, Yukon, where she lives with poet and journalist Erling Friis-Baastad.
- Short-listed, Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction
“I would inwardly be predicting how [Robertson] might resolve the stories, but the final scene slid into something else entirely, in a quiet and ordinary way.”
<i>Buried in Print</i>
“Patricia Robertson’s beautifully written, intelligent stories take us into the clash of cultures — African and European, the elderly and the young — across the defining borders of our time, to show us that our habitual ways of confronting change are no longer working. Her stories re-align what we think we know about the world — they are that good.”
Wayne Grady, author of <i>Up from Freedom</i>
“Robertson manages to articulate her own electrifying turns of phrase in her speculative short-story collection. Plaintive ghosts, vengeful gods, and prophetic dreams haunt the book’s pages, and viscerally uncanny words and symbols often accompany these unearthly phenomena.”
“Robertson achieves a balance between adrenaline-filled scenes of refugee rescue and fierce firefighting and contemplative moments of youthful yearnings and intellectual introspection to create a cohesive work where readers will want to be lost.”
<i>Atlantic Books Today</i>
“Hour of the Crab is fascinating and dark, playing with the edge of what is real and what could be.”
<i>The Miramichi Reader</i>
“The stories in this sure-footed collection take us deeper into the world and invite us to see outside our usual framing of things. In times when our literary options might seem to be diversion or despair, Patricia Robertson offers a third way: to look steadily and respond humanely.”
Joan Thomas, author of <i>Five Wives</i>
“Robertson’s prose is faultless, imbued with breathtaking imagery. Many of the stories involve a sense of otherworldliness, capturing the wonder of the world beyond the 'consensual reality.'”
<i>Prairie Books Now</i>
“Panoramic in scope, precise in detail, stirring in content, Hour of the Crab is exhilarating and poised, a mythos of modern times. Here are fire gods, migration, and extraterrestrial messages, strange spirits and apparitions rendered harrowingly real. Deftly speculative, menacingly real, these stories compel you to change your life.”
David Huebert, author of <i>Peninsula Sinking</i>
“The stories in Hour of the Crab are compelling, touching on a wide range of human emotions and motivations and told in an interesting and thought-provoking way.”
<i>Winnipeg Free Press</i>