Spellbinding, original, Salamander careens through a world of ideas and stories in which the transforming power of books, the thirst for knowledge, and the pursuit of immortality become erotic. It is also a universal story of love and obsession. Set in the eighteenth century, the narrative revolves around a world-spanning quest for the infinite book. Along the way the novel gathers stories that range from a Chinese tale of jealousy and lost love to the remarkable history of Alexandria’s other great library and to epoch-making moments on the battlefields of colonial America. At the centre of the novel’s unforgettable cast of characters is the London printer Nicholas Flood, a dedicated craftsman who is unprepared for all that awaits him when he accepts an unusual commission. Intricate, humane, infused with humour and pathos, Salamander is an exhilarating, elegantly crafted novel.
Thomas Wharton was born in northern Alberta. His acclaimed first novel, Icefields (1995), won the regional Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book (Caribbean and Canada), the Writers Guild of Alberta Best First Book Award, and the Banff Mountain Book Festival Grand Prize. Salamander (2001) was a national bestseller and a finalist for the Governor General’s Award. His work has been anthologized in Canada and the US.
Wharton lives in Edmonton with his wife, Sharon, and their three children. He is at work on his next novel.
“A remarkable, electrifying novel.”
“A novel as sensual and fantastic as a fairy tale and as thoughtful and as beautifully written as anything we might expect from
Michael Ondaatje and Isabel Allende.”
–London Free Press
“Audacious. . . . Salamander is about making books; it’s about why we read and what happens to the chain of our lives when we do.…”
–Quill and Quire (starred review)
“Witty, elliptical and provoking.…Delightful.”
“A cabinet of wonders.…”
–Globe and Mail
“A vigorous, imaginative novel about the power of reading and invention.”
–Quill and Quire
“Salamander is the sort of book every reader hopes to find, earnestly passes along to friends, and returns to in their dreams.…A visceral, compelling novel that will reward both serious inquiry and reading for pure pleasure.…A beautiful, emotionally resonant postmodern novel.”
“This novel cannot help but connect deeply with its readers. . . .”
“It’s all too rare that you pick up a book and find yourself inexorably swept into a different world, thoroughly absorbed in a realm far removed from the here and now.…Salamander captivates its readers, holds them spellbound, and persists in memory long after you’ve turned the final page.…Thoroughly absorbing.…”
“Wharton’s novel is both spellbinding and encyclopedic.…It is a book lovers’ book and a lovers’ story.”
–New Brunswick Reader
“Salamander is an extraordinary book of possibilities.”
“[Wharton] cement[s] his reputation as one of Canada’s most promising young writers.”