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Fiction Psychological

Ten Good Seconds of Silence

A novel

by (author) Elizabeth Ruth

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2001
Psychological, Occult & Supernatural, General
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2001
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  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2001
    List Price

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Short-listed for the 2001 Rogers Writers’ Trust of Canada Fiction Prize and the in Canada First Novel Prize
Lilith Boot’s life changes forever the night she drowns the flowers in her parents’ garden. Frightened by their daughter’s odd behaviour, and her recent pronouncements of psychic visions, the Boots send Lilith to a Vancouver mental hospital. It is there that she becomes pregnant, giving birth after her discharge.
Years later, Lilith uses her visions to help Toronto police find missing children. At the same time, her own daughter, Lemon, struggles to distinguish herself from her quirky mother. Searching for her identity, she sets off across the country in search of the father she has never met. In the process, both Lilith and Lemon discover that they can never escape from the past - or each other.
This debut novel introduces an astonishing new voice to the Canadian literary scene. With fresh, inspiring language, and characters who steal your heart, Elizabeth Ruth weaves together an unforgettable story of loss and landscape of memory.

About the author

Elizabeth Ruth is a writer, editor, creative writing instructor and mother living in Toronto, Canada. Her first novel, Ten Good Seconds of Silence was a finalist for the Writers' Trust of Canada Fiction Prize, the Best First Novel Award and the City of Toronto Book Award. Her critically acclaimed second novel, Smoke, was chosen for the 2007 One Book One Community program. Elizabeth Ruth's third novel - about a female bullfighter - will be published in Canada in fall 2012 by Cormorant Books. 

Elizabeth is well known for her mentorship of aspiring writers. She teaches at the University of Toronto, and through the Humber School for Writers. In 2011 Elizabeth held the position of Writer-In-Residence at the Toronto Public Library. Elizabeth has also held the position of Writer-In-Residence at the Oshawa and Kitchener Public Libraries. In recent years, Elizabeth has mentored middle and high school English students through WIER, Writers in Electronic Residence. In 2011 she delivered workshops and offered manuscript evaluations to writers across northern Ontario. In 2012, together with Ann Douglas, Elizabeth Ruth was hired by The Writer's Union of Canada (TWUC) to deliver professional development workshops to writers across the country. She is a long-standing member of TWUC and the current chair of the author's advisory committee of the Writers' Trust of Canada. 

Elizabeth Ruth has a BA in English Literature and an MA in Counselling Psychology, both from the University of Toronto. She is also a graduate of the Humber School of Writers

Elizabeth Ruth's profile page


  • Short-listed, in Canada First Novel Award
  • Short-listed, City of Toronto Book Award
  • Short-listed, Writers' Trust of Canada Fiction Prize

Editorial Reviews

Ruth's debut novel strikes chords of identity, loss and memory that resonate with all of us.

Hamilton Spectator

a most unusual and impressive novel.

Vancouver Sun

Brilliantly crafted and filled with glorious, intriguing characters, this debut novel from Canadian author elizabeth Rutgh is a joy to the heart and soul.

The Telegram (St. John's, NF)

Through Lilith's relationship with her own mother and her daughter, Ruth dares to confront the fine line between a maternal love that nurtures the child and a maternal love that functions to save the mother herself. In Ten Good Seconds of Silence, Elizabeth Ruth faces the complexity of motherhood, for mothers and their children alike.

Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering

an engaging and original story.

Books in Canada

This is an important book for its daring, direct look at issues and people we too often confine not only in the margins of society, but in our minds as well.

The Toronto Star

nuanced and compelling writing.

Globe and Mail

Ruth explores the things that make us tick with an attention to detail that never completely bogs down the plot's momentum. We quickly come to root for Lilith the survivor and love the scrappy Lemon's adolescent mistakes. This first novel forecasts a unique talent.

Now Magazine

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