The Case of Lena S. follows the life, loves, and coming-of-age of sixteen-year-old Mason Crowe during a year in which he will learn what it truly means to be in the world. At the centre of the novel is Lena, a troubled girl who has “chosen” Mason and will teach him something of desire and despair. Impulsive, provocative, vulnerable, and sad, Lena becomes haunting for Mason in ways he does not always understand. We meet Mason’s first “love,” an older girl destined for an arranged marriage; his mother, who takes a lover; and a wise and erudite blind man with a voyeuristic streak, to whom Mason reads. Playful, and with deadpan humour, the novel brilliantly captures the yearnings of youth, as well as the tantalizing possibilities and the confounding absurdities that sometimes lie at the heart of our most intimate relationships.
David Bergen is the author of three highly acclaimed novels: A Year of Lesser (1996), a New York Times Notable Book and winner of the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award; See the Child (1999); and, most recently, The Case of Lena S. (2002), winner of the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award, and a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award, and the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction. He is also the author of a collection of short fiction, Sitting Opposite My Brother (1993), which was a finalist for the Manitoba Book of the Year. A section from The Case of Lena S. was chosen for Toronto Life’s Summer Fiction issue in 2000. Bergen won the CBC Literary Prize for Fiction the same year.
David Bergen lives in Winnipeg.
“It is impossible not to compare David Bergen’s new novel to the work of Richard Ford.….A magical piece of writing. . . . It is taut, affecting and lovely, one of those wonderful works that bears reading and rereading and that in its hard crystalline prose does everything right.”
“A heart-breaking account of an adolescent adrift in a world with no boundaries.… This novel is the best yet from a writer who specializes in that rare novelistic skill these days, the depiction of character. In this case, Bergen’s evocation of the innocent joined with the sinister is unforgettable.”
“Enthralling.… A trenchant and thought-provoking work of fiction.”
–Winnipeg Free Press
“A deeply beautiful book.”
“Compelling.… An exploration of the quiet desperation of teenagers on the edge of adulthood.…”
–Globe and Mail
“David Bergen sounds nary a false note in his latest precise, challenging novel.”
“Bergen’s story of 16-year-old Mason Crowe explores the mystery of coming of age: how it happens and, equally important, what happens when the process goes awry.”
“Bergen’s psychological portraits are accurate and passionately observed.”
–Jury citation, Governor General’s Awards
“His excellent writing [has] piquancy and nuance.…”
–Quill & Quire
“Spare, lucid, haunting and overlaid with melancholy. . . . It’s a terrific performance.… Bergen is simply too good and too clear-eyed a writer to ever circle around the truth of his subject. His subject here, the emotional and physical lives of teenagers, is revealed as both sad and perplexing.… A deeply beautiful book.”
“Goes well beyond the traditional coming-of-age chronicle to pose problems of loss and rejection and to set these questions against the uncertainties of young adulthood.… The book is well written and insightful and captures the clamour, chaos and fractured idiom of youth as it passes into adulthood. As a commentary on the priorities of the young, The Case of Lena S. ranks high indeed.”
–London Free Press
“Bergen’s language flows and his descriptions are tantalizing.”