It's 2016, and there's a new president in the White House. The world is on edge, and celebrated novelist Johnny Coma, survivor of a bomb test in the Nevada desert and the subsequent disintegration of his marriage to photographer Vivienne Pink, must face the one trauma he can no longer put behind him: the death of their young daughter, Stella, in Toronto more than a decade ago. Now united only by their grief, Johnny and Vivienne drift further apart and fall for other people. While Vivienne heads to Amsterdam to cover a terror event, the quixotic Johnny arrives in Barcelona to rewrite the story of his daughter's life and to learn from new friends the healing power of stories and art. Complex, fantastical and stirring, Perly's writing upends simple expectations. In Stella Atlantis, readers find a treacherous world where an ordinary van can become an instrument of mayhem, but can also repay with unexpected gifts; the sea delivers letters to lost souls; and a long-dead daughter returns as an octopus from an underwater world that parallels our own. In the end, we are left to wonder if the dead are truly gone, or whether their ghosts walk among us in many forms.
Susan Perly is a fiction writer, former radio journalist and war correspondent. She is the author of the novels, Death Valley and Love Street, and her short stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies.
In an earlier life chapter, Perly reported for CBC Radio from conflict zones, such as the Iran-Iraq War in Letters from Baghdad, from the Guatemalan refugee camps of the Mexican jungles, and from Argentina and Uruguay during their military regimes. In the 1980s she was part of an international commission investigating the torture and disappearance of journalists and artists in those countries. Her on-site engagements in the fields of tyranny have informed her fiction.
Perly lives in her hometown Toronto with her husband, poet Dennis Lee.