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Fiction Literary

The Full Catastrophe

A Novel

by (author) Méira Cook

House of Anansi Press Inc
Initial publish date
Jun 2022
Literary, Cultural Heritage, Jewish
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jun 2022
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2022
    List Price

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Winner, 2023 Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction

Finalist, 2023 McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award

A compassionate and funny novel about defining yourself, the communities that support us, and the journeys that secrets propel.


Charlie Minkoff, a thirteen-year-old boy born with intersex traits, would be happy to be left alone. Living with his artist mother in a derelict loft in downtown Winnipeg, perpetually wondering about the father who abandoned him, and tormented in school because of his differences, Charlie navigates the assorted catastrophes of his life. He’s helped along by the love of his beloved grandfather, Oscar, and the makeshift family who surround him: his mother’s best friend; a couple of elderly shut-in neighbours; a mysterious girl in his class who has secrets of her own; and his desperately needy and perpetually hungry dog, Gellman.


When a school project leads him to discover that Oscar never had a bar mitzvah, Charlie decides to right the historical wrong and arrange a belated ceremony. But this quest will be more than he bargained for, and meanwhile everyone from his doctor to his Ancestry Studies teacher keeps insisting that Charlie needs to learn to tell his own story.


Margaret Laurence Award winner Méira Cook’s The Full Catastrophe is a story of psychological complexity, tenderness, and humour.

About the author

Méira Cook is the award-winning author of the novels The House on Sugarbush Road, which won the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award, and Nightwatching, which won the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction. She has also published five poetry collections, most recently Monologue Dogs, which was shortlisted for the 2016 Lansdowne Prize for Poetry and for the 2016 McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award. She won the CBC Poetry Prize in 2007 and the inaugural Walrus Poetry Prize in 2012. In 2011 she served as Writer in Residence at the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture, and was the 2013–14 Writer in Residence at the Winnipeg Public Library. Born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, she now lives in Winnipeg.

Méira Cook's profile page


  • Short-listed, McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award
  • Winner, Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction

Editorial Reviews

[The Full Catastrophe] challenges conventional ideas about adolescence, parenting and the experience of intersex children.

Winnipeg Free Press

Wit, wisdom, rhythm, emotional warmth, charm, and more fill the exuberant pages of Méira Cook’s fourth novel.

The Miramichi Reader

The Full Catastrophe reads like a tragi-comic film with a unique cast of characters.

CBC Books

The Full Catastrophe has characters as rich and multi-faceted as life itself.

Prairie Books Now

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