In the stories of Mad Hope, Journey Prize winner Heather Birrell finds the heart of her characters and lets them lead us into worlds both recognizable and alarming. A science teacher and former doctor is forced to re-examine the role he played in CeauÅ?escu’s Romania after a student makes a shocking request; a tragic plane crash becomes the basis for a meditation on motherhood and its discontents; women in an online chat group share (and overshare) their anxieties and personal histories; and a chance encounter in a waiting room tests the ties that bind us. Using precise, inventive language, Birrell creates astute and empathetic portraits of people we thought we knew – and deftly captures the lovely, maddening mess of being human.
Heather Birrell is the author of two short story collections: Mad Hope (Coach House Books, 2012) and I know you are but what am I? (Coach House Books, 2004). Her stories have been shortlisted for both the Western and National Magazine Awards and have appeared in numerous Canadian literary journals. A frequent book reviewer and winner of the Journey Prize, she also works as a high school teacher and a creative writing instructor.
'This is a beautiful book: funny, whip-smart, compassionate, and gorgeously written. Heather Birrell belongs in the short story pantheon with Alice Munro, Lisa Moore, and Zsuzsi Gartner.' – Annabel Lyon