From the beloved, award-winning, bestselling author of The Cellist of Sarajevo, a beautiful, suspense-filled novel that uses the life and sudden death of Harry Houdini to weave a magical tale of intrigue, love and illusion.
The Confabulist weaves together the life, loves and murder of the world's greatest magician, Harry Houdini, with the story of the man who killed him (twice): Martin Strauss, an everyday man whose fate was tied to the magician's in unforeseen ways. A cast of memorable characters spins around Houdini's celebrity-driven life, as they did in his time: from the Romanov family soon to be assassinated, to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the powerful heads of Scotland Yard, and the Spiritualists who would use whoever they could to establish their religion. A brilliant novel about fame and ambition, reality and illusion, and the ways that love, grief and imagination can alter what we perceive and believe.
Steven Galloway is the author of Finnie Walsh, Ascension, and The Cellist of Sarajevo, which was a national bestseller; won the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature and the Ontario Library Association Evergreen Award; was a finalist for the CBA Libris Fiction Book of the Year and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize; and was longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Scotiabank Giller Prize.
FINALIST 2014 – Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize
“The Confabulist…is a stunning achievement…. Galloway proves he’s a magician when it comes to plotting, taking what could read like stilted faux-biography of the world’s most famous escape artist and instead creating a skilful story within a story…. Like the best magic tricks, The Confabulist—at once a mystery, a historical epic and a thoughtful rumination on how one might live a life with purpose—only reveals itself at the end.”
—Zoe Whittall, National Post
“[Galloway] has a real gift for narrative pacing. In The Confabulist he uses it, like a magician uses misdirection, to mask his real aims. From page 1 on, the book builds toward a single big reveal. And when it comes, it’s satisfying and just surprising enough to make you wonder how exactly you were surprised.”
“Vancouver author Steven Galloway created literary magic with The Cellist of Sarajevo…. Now in his new novel, The Confabulist, Galloway makes magic again, this time of the literal, stage-show variety…. With Galloway’s elegant sleight-of-hand, [The Confabulist] is as finely crafted as the most intricate magic trick, right to the revelatory conclusion. Whether or not it’s the ending you anticipate, you’re likely to think, after any clever illusion, ‘Amazing. How did he do that?’”
—Marcia Kaye, Toronto Star
“The Confabulist [is] as thrilling as Houdini’s magic. Steven Galloway weaves a subtly complex tale that captivates the reader on many levels…. [He] effortlessly blends history and fiction into a thrilling narrative that is as irresistible as it is subtly complex…. Like the best illusionists, Galloway engages in significant prestidigitation in the telling of The Confabulist. While the novel thrills on a strictly narrative level, pushing the reader through as they wonder what will happen next, its construction is deceptively complex…. The Confabulist is one to treasure.”
—Robert J. Wiersema, The Vancouver Sun
“Fascinating…. A brilliant novel, and one that virtually demands multiple readings to pick up all the subtleties (especially concerning the end of the book, and enough said about that).”
—Booklist (starred review)
“Steven Galloway has pulled off an impressive feat. With Houdini as his backdrop, Galloway has blended fact and fiction in a mind-processor pioneered by Poe. The result is astounding.”
—David Ben, Magician and Artistic Director, Magicana
“What begins as a playful, mind-teasing mystery about Harry Houdini, the greatest magician who ever lived, turns subtly, brilliantly into a beautiful elegy on love and loss, identity and self-deception. Galloway, who is fast emerging as one of our finest young writers, has produced another novel to linger over, read and re-read, in order to glean all that it has to offer.”
—Kevin Baker, author of The Big Crowd