From Giller prize–winning author of The Time in Between and Canada Reads finalist for The Age of Hope comes a stirring tale that lays bare the bonds of motherhood, revealing just how far a mother will go to reclaim her stolen child.
Íso, a young Guatemalan woman, works at a fertility clinic at Ixchel, in the highlands of the Sierra Madre de Chiapas. She tends to the rich northern women who visit the clinic hoping that the waters of the nearby lake might increase their chances of conception. Like many of the women working at the clinic, Íso is aware of the resident American doctor, Eric Mann. Soon Íso is his secret lover, stealing away with Dr. Mann on long motorcycle rides through the mountains and enjoying beach vacations with Eric and his doctor friends. But their tryst does not last long. Dr. Mann decides he will return to the US, and a freak accident cuts the couple’s time together even shorter. Before Íso can tell Dr. Mann that she is pregnant, he is gone.
After the birth of her daughter, the baby is taken from her. The director of the clinic informs Íso that her child is in America. Determined to reclaim her stolen daughter, Íso makes her way north through Mexico, eventually crossing illegally into a United States divided into military zones. Travelling without documentation, and with little money, Íso descends into a world full of danger. In a place of shifting boundaries, Íso must determine who she can trust and how much, aware that she might lose her daughter forever.
The profound intelligence and political resonance we have come to expect from Bergen sit front and centre in Stranger, contributing to the growing legacy of this Giller Prize–winning author. With its themes of dislocation and disruption, of power and vulnerability, of rich and of poor, Stranger is a powerfully resonant political novel for our times.
“Inventive and electrifying. . . . It takes a skilled and gutsy writer to so clearly overlay ancient frames with an item you might hear in passing on the news. That’s Bergen. He’s known for his clean prose and wonderful, startling observations, and this book has perfect pitch.”
“David Bergen is a writer with perfect instinct for the old traditions of epic storytelling, and also for intricate observation of how people operate, and why they do what they do . . . Novels as good as this come around rarely—a few in a lifetime.”
“Leaving Tomorrow is pure pleasure. It doesn’t parade its wit or its wisdom but is a sensitive, perceptive and disarmingly honest bildungsroman which deserves to take its place alongside such mid-western Canadian classics as Who Has Seen the Wind and A Complicated Kindness.”
“Leaving Tomorrow is a contemplative novel full of the hope that comes with youth, but in the end it becomes clear that like life, the journey is the real destination.”
“At once grand and intimate, Stranger is an epic story with a very human heart.”
“David Bergen has written arguably his best novel. . . . The book manages the rare feat of being profound and important but at the same time absolutely gripping.”
“Stranger is an engrossing human exploration of displacement and inequality. . . . Bergen paints a dire reality that isn’t far off from the current state of affairs in the United States. Stranger feels like a caution, warning of the dangers of continued disunity and the growing rift from inequality”
“. . . an intriguing synthesis of Bergen’s previous works, blending the earlier novels’ focus on the suppressed lusts, rivalries, and consolations that underpin family and community with the broader, more topical concerns of The Retreat and The Time in Between.”
“Inventive and electrifying. . . . Skilled and gutsy. . . . Brilliant and utterly convincing. . . . [Stranger] reminds us that even in the best-known stories, something unexpected is always lurking, if you go deep enough.”
“The gorgeous lyricism of David Bergen’s latest novel recalls the atmosphere of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.”
“This is a moving and engaging novel of grief and loss, impeccably written and fully imagined.”
“breathtaking . . . a work of genius”