From one of Canada's most exciting writers comes a gripping, compassionate and stunning novel that overturns and rewrites history.
Enter the world of Jimmy--a tall, red-haired, homeless thirty-something ex-soldier, battered by PTSD--as he camps out on the streets of modern-day Montreal, trying to remember and reclaim his youth. While his past is something of an enigma, even to himself, the young man bears a striking resemblance to General James Wolfe, "Conqueror of Canada" and "Hero of Quebec," who died on the Plains of Abraham in 1759.
As a young soldier in his twenties, the historical James Wolfe (1727-1759) was granted a short and much longed-for leave to travel to Paris to study poetry, music and dance--three of his passions. But in that very year, 1752, the British Empire abandoned the Julian calendar for the Gregorian, and every citizen of England lost eleven days: September 2 was followed by September 14. These lost eleven days happened to occur during the period that Wolfe had been granted for his leave. Despondent and bitter, he never got the chance to explore his artistic bent, and seven short years later, on the anniversary of this foreshortened leave, he died on the Plains of Abraham.
Now, James is getting his eleven days back . . . but instead of the salons of 18th century Paris, he's wandering the streets of present-day Montreal and Quebec City, not as "the Hero of Quebec" but as a damaged war veteran wracked with anguish. Much like George Saunders in Lincoln in the Bardo, award-winning author Kathleen Winter takes a brief, intensely personal incident in the life of a famous historical figure, and using her incomparable gifts as a fiction writer, powerfully reimagines him. Here is a wrenching, unforgettable portrait--like none you have ever seen or read--of one of the most well-known figures in Canadian history.
KATHLEEN WINTER's novel Annabel was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor General's Literary Award, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, the Orange Prize, and numerous other awards. It was also a Globe and Mail "Best Book," a New York Times "Notable" book, a Quill & Quire "Book of the Year" and #1 bestseller in Canada. It has been published and translated worldwide. Her Arctic memoir Boundless (2014) was shortlisted for Canada's Weston and Taylor non-fiction prizes and has been sold internationally. The Freedom in American Songs (Stories, Biblioasis) also came out in 2014. Born in the UK, Winter lives in Montreal after many years in Newfoundland. The author lives in Montreal, QC.
Finalist for the 2017 Governor General’s Award for Fiction
Finalist for the 2017 Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction
“Kathleen Winter’s Lost in September is evocative, humane and totally original. . . . [A] novel of suspense and lyricism. . . . Winter’s writing is undeniably elegant: undulating with recurring motifs of water and rivers, blindness and vision, a painterly attention to detail involving primary coloured figures that lend more elemental power to the prose. . . . Wolfe’s stubbornness and tenderness, his love of dogs and comrades, of art and his mother, reveal a multidimensional person haunted by the past, a hope not to lose his ‘humanity’ despite years of killing. And however misty or complex its forces, Lost in September coalesces into a touching portrait of a broken man, as well as a considerable addition to the literature of war, of trauma and recovery. It’s energized by a deep compassion for our drive to heal and remember, even in the shadow of unimaginable bloodshed: an afterworld where time ceases to make sense, and regrets can last a lifetime—and some, perhaps, might even last forever.” —The Globe and Mail
“Kathleen Winter returns to the upper echelons of CanLit with her audacious new novel, Lost in September. A heartfelt portrait of Jimmy, an ex-soldier battling PTSD, it’s also a cryptic ghost story. . . It’s to Winter’s credit that [hints about Wolfe] are subtle and incremental, just enough to keep the reader guessing at the relationship between James and Jimmy through to the novel’s finale. . . . In the end, the identity of our hero is perhaps less important than the themes of trauma, sacrifice, and intimacy which Winter so richly explores. . . . [I]t’s a book that uses a wealth of archival material to its advantage. As readers, we are tasked with navigating the mysterious heart of this brooding soldier, and the rich trove of historical letters serve as able way-finding guides.” —Trevor Corkum, author of The Electric Boy, Toronto Star
“[F]unny, captivating, completely eccentric and totally wonderful.” —Parry Sound North Star