Longlisted for the 2023 Carol Shields Prize for Fiction
A riveting exploration of the complexity within mother-daughter relationships and the dynamic vitality of Vancouver's former Hogan's Alley neighbourhood.
1930s, Hogan's Alley—a thriving Black and immigrant community located in Vancouver's East End. Junie is a creative, observant child who moves to the alley with her mother, Maddie: a jazz singer with a growing alcohol dependency. Junie quickly makes meaningful relationships with two mentors and a girl her own age, Estelle, whose resilient and entrepreneurial mother is grappling with white scrutiny and the fact that she never really wanted a child.
As Junie finds adulthood, exploring her artistic talents and burgeoning sexuality, her mother sinks further into the bottle while the thriving neighbourhood—once gushing with potential—begins to change. As her world opens, Junie intuits the opposite for the community she loves.
Told through the fascinating lens of a bright woman in an oft-disquieting world, this book is intimate and urgent—not just an unflinching look at the destruction of a vibrant community, but a celebration of the Black lives within.
About the author
CHELENE KNIGHT is the author of the novel Junie, which was longlisted for the inaugural Carol Shields Prize for Fiction; the memoir Dear Current Occupant, winner of the 2018 Vancouver Book Award and longlisted for the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature; and Braided Skin. Her essays have appeared in multiple Canadian and American publications. Previously the managing editor at Room magazine and the director of the Growing Room Festival in Vancouver, Knight has also worked as a poetry professor at the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia and as a literary agent at the Transatlantic Agency. Knight has now founded her own literary studio, Breathing Space Creative, through which she’s launched the Forever Writers Club, a membership for writers focused on creative sustainability; the Thrive coaching program; and the Rise author care program.
- Long-listed, CBC Canada Reads
- Short-listed, City of Vancouver Book Award
- Long-listed, Carol Shields Prize for Fiction
- Nominated, ReLit Award for Fiction
- Short-listed, Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBTQ Fiction
“Packed with history and heart, this is one great debut novel.” —Vancouver Sun
“Junie takes readers to the under-documented world of writer Saidiya Hartman’s errant Black women and girls. Their experiments in living freely—as singers, nightclub owners and artists; as mothers and daughters; as members of a small, tight-knit Black community—are tales of “the beauty of black ordinary,” as Hartman writes in Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments. Outside of Hogan’s Alley and the East End, these girls and women are surveilled and threatened, but within it, they can be their flawed and fantastic selves.” —The Globe and Mail
“Junie is a triumphant and breathtakingly beautiful account of a largely neglected novelistic terrain—Hogan’s Alley in Vancouver. It reminded me what is possible when an author of Knight’s magnitude and talent creates a luminous sense of place.” —Canadian Literature
“Fittingly for a coming of age story, Junie’s challenges and growth are Junie’s central concerns. Knight captures her as keenly observant and wonderfully conflicted. She aches with yearning, intuiting — if not yet able to name — places and roles where her adult self will be fulfilled.” —The British Columbia Review
“In Junie, Knight explores the complex emotions existing between mothers and daughters while highlighting a long-lost corner of Canada in the 1930s. She uses a poetic narrative to shed light on each of the four women’s fragile dreams vulnerable to being crushed by the hard world in which they live.” —Winnipeg Free Press