A bold and gripping literary debut about three very different sisters who return to their family home to face imminent tragedy and their tumultuous pasts.
Summoned to their magnificent family home on the shores of Lake Ontario--a paradisiacal mansion perched on an escarpment above the city--three adult sisters, George, Jax, and Pippa, come together in what seems like an act of family solidarity. Pregnant and unwell, the youngest, Pippa, has left her husband and four young children in New Zealand and returned home to heal. But home to this family means secrets, desire, and vengeance--and feasting on the sexual appetites and weaknesses of others. Each daughter has her own particular taste and overlaying everything are their parents, with unquenchable desires and cravings of their own.
As the affluent family endures four intense days in one another's company, old fissures reappear. When long-buried truths finally come to light, the sisters and their parents must face the unthinkable consequences of their actions.
Summer Cannibals is a riveting, psychological story of lust, betrayal, and family from a dazzling new voice in Canadian fiction.
MELANIE HOBSON holds a BA Honours in Classical Studies from McMaster University, was a Michener Fellow in the MFA at the University of Miami, and a Kingsbury Fellow in the PhD Program at Florida State University. She now lives in Florida with her husband and two children. Summer Cannibals is her first novel.
“Melanie Hobson writes with the dark energy and twisted exuberance reminiscent of her most celebrated predecessors—Atwood, Murdoch, Oates, and so many others plumbing the raw, violent depths of toxic families. Her mesmerizing characters are semi-feral, trapped and struggling under the terrible weight of what a man can do to a girl, a daughter, a wife. Summer Cannibals seems perfectly written for the world today, our blind greedy stumble from thing to thing.”—Bob Shacochis, author of The Woman Who Lost Her Soul
"Summer Cannibals is a story of domestic mayhem, where hidden angers spur tensions that manifest in the most unlikely ways. I was on the edge of my seat until the very end when, with the force of a tsunami, everything that’s been built comes crashing down, to devastating effect."—Yasuko Thanh, Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize-winning author of Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains
“Dark, risky and as gorgeous as the ocean at midnight, Hobson’s exquisitely written debut gathers a fractured grown family together for six dangerous days of lust, longing, sex, secrets and stunning betrayals. The story may be set in the languid days of summer, but My God, it’s a terrific scorcher.”—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times Bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Cruel Beautiful World
“An elegant, sexy story of four scarred but undaunted women and one seriously monstrous patriarch, Summer Cannibals simmers languidly up to an explosive finale which reminds us, in an unforgettable manner, that no institution in our lives is more powerful or perilous than our families. Melanie Hobson’s indelible voice somehow conveys both boundless compassion for human frailty and wit as lethal as a straight razor held at the base of the throat. Family dysfunction at its finest."—Ed Tarkington, author of Only Love Can Break Your Heart
“There is a quality to Melanie Hobson’s writing that reminds me of Brideshead Revisited or certain John Cheever stories; a quality of languid lyricism and moral corruption that I found immediately arresting. The story of three sisters carrying out both subtle and shocking acts of deceit and desire (And oh, Pippa!) is something to be savored like a gin and tonic on a summer afternoon by the lake. But a storm is rolling in and the water, moments ago so inviting and glorious, begins to grow dark. Is it safe? Should you dive in? Summer Cannibals announces the arrival of a great talent that book clubs and reviewers alike will adore.”—Matt Bondurant, author of The Night Swimmer and The Wettest County in the World
“Summer Cannibals feels decidedly feminist. Hobson provides the perspectives of the women, each of whom struggles to survive despite old wounds… Men’s insatiable appetites – for sex, for glory, for control – and the resulting destruction of the women around them are showcased so brilliantly and intimately.” —Quill & Quire
“Summer Cannibals is sharply observed, its realism contrasted with gothic, even surreal touches. Hobson tells her tale of a family coming together and apart with psychological insight and acerbic wit, a combination that recalls some of the toxic families in novels by Margaret Atwood and Joyce Carol Oates.” —Tampa Bay Times