These twenty superbly crafted linked stories navigate the difficult realm of friendship, charting its beginnings and ends, its intimacies and betrayals, its joys and humiliations. A mother learns something of the nature of love from watching her young daughter as she falls in and out of favour with a neighbourhood girl. An intricate story of two women reveals a friendship held together by the steely bonds of passivity. A chance sighting in a library prompts a woman to recall the “unconsummated courtship” she was drawn into by a male colleague. With trenchant insight, uncommon honesty, and dark humour, Elizabeth Hay probes the precarious bonds that exist between friends. The result is an emotionally raw and provocative collection of stories that will resonate with readers long after the final page.
Elizabeth Hay is the author of two highly acclaimed, bestselling novels. Her first novel, A Student of Weather (2000), won the CAA MOSAID Technologies Inc. Award for Fiction and the TORGI Award, and was a finalist for The Giller Prize, the Ottawa Book Award, and the Pearson Canada Reader’s Choice Award at The Word on the Street. Her most recent novel, Garbo Laughs (2003), won the Ottawa Book Award and was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award. She is also the author of Crossing the Snow Line (stories, 1989); The Only Snow in Havana (non-fiction, 1992); Captivity Tales: Canadians in New York (non-fiction, 1993), and Small Change (stories, 1997), which was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award, the Trillium Award, and the Rogers Communications Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Her stories have been anthologized in Best Canadian Stories, The Journey Prize Anthology, and The Oxford Book of Stories by Canadian Women, edited by Rosemary Sullivan. She has won a National Magazine Award Gold Medal for Fiction and a Western Magazine Award for Fiction. In 2002, she received the prestigious Marian Engel Award.
Elizabeth Hay lives in Ottawa.
“Compelling.…These linked stories are not so much conventional narratives as unflinching meditations on ambivalent love, the only love worth writing about, as John Updike once said. What readers and even literary jurors are responding to is how close to the bone Hay’s fiction is.”
“One of Ms. Hay’s most remarkable characteristics as a writer is her great economy, her ability to bring time in and out, to give long thoughts in short phrases, to create levels of intimacy and encroachment, to intensify the world by making it tense.”
“Small Change takes real risks and is an idiosyncratic and bitterly intelligent collection of stories. It is also, paradoxically, both timeless and as fresh as new paint.”
“Hay brings together in [Small Change] the revelatory power of narrative, the analytical possibilities of the personal essay and memoir, the investigative discipline of journalism, and the sudden illumination of lyric, and as a result she seems able to pick up almost everything – everything said, and most of what is only whispered in a gesture or a look between friends.…Endlessly rewarding.…These stories are beautifully written and carefully honed.”
–The Malahat Review
“Stories that capture those details, moments, that someone less observant, less sensitive would miss. Language that flows as easily as water.”
–Jury Citation, Governor General’s Literary Awards
“Captivating.…Fluid, evanescent, rarely in balance, the friendships recounted in these stories are everything but peaceful.”
“Hay knows how to make a line breathe, and it’s possible to open the book at random to find sharp, almost electric, prose leap out and give off light.…Through sparkling prose, Hay is able to flesh out the quirky and individual gestures that make out relationships.…”
–Ottawa X Press
“One of Canada’s premier writers.…”