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Biography & Autobiography Literary

The Only Snow in Havana

by (author) Elizabeth Hay

Cormorant Books
Initial publish date
Mar 2008
Literary, Women, Personal Memoirs
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2008
    List Price

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In one of the earliest published works by the 2007 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner, Elizabeth Hay, in her graceful, poetic style, collects a series of reflections on life, identity, history, and love, drifting through her many homes — Yellowknife, Mexico City, Toronto, and New York City — to consider the identity of Canadians and how we live in the wider world.


With every place she lives, Hay questions the idea of being Canadian that it means, who we are, how do we act, how do we live and compares it to the world around her in stunning detail, drawing the disparate locations together by their connection to the history of the early Canadian fur trade and our hearty adoration of snow.


Using her own life and experiences of working in radio, raising a daughter, and finding her place in the world, Hay informs and expands the history she explores by including her own. She writes of the heart of a country, the history of a people that live on the brink of identity, the smallest slip and we enter an entirely different world.


Blending memoir, biography, and history in a provocative intensity, Hay's style and talent shines through in this early work, proving her well on the road to her long, and lustrous career. The Only Snow in Havana is an accomplished work, an early, compelling document of one of Canada's finest writers.

About the author

A former CBC Radio host, interviewer and documentary maker in Winnipeg, Yellowknife and Toronto, Elizabeth Hay spent eight years in New York where a profound longing for home propelled her to write Captivity Tales. In a poetic blend of personal narrative, biography, history and literary fiction, she tells the stories of other Canadians who came to New York and their experiences away from home. She is the author of three other books: The Only Snow in Havana, Crossing the Snow Lines, and Small Change. She lives in Ottawa.

Elizabeth Hay's profile page


  • Joint winner, Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction

Editorial Reviews

“Imaginary, inventive, filled with its own light in rather a similar way to an Impressionist painting. It has a unique gleaming quality.”

George Woodcock

“The writing is a constant joy, alive with simple images that strike to the heart, a clarity of expression that is like clean air, observations that stop on the page.”

Canadian Book Review Annual

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