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Fiction Literary

The Republic of Nothing

by (author) Lesley Choyce

afterword by Neil Peart

Goose Lane Editions
Initial publish date
Nov 2010
Literary, Coming of Age
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 1999
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 1994
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Nov 2010
    List Price

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Winner, Dartmouth Book Award
Shortlisted, Atlantic Booksellers Choice Award

A small Canadian island declares its independence to the world and benign anarchy reigns. A god-like ocean deposits many a thing, yet it also takes away. The 1960s blaze off shore and draw the island's inhabitants into politics, the Vietnam War, and the peace movement.

Sound impossible? Not on Whalebone Island, AKA the Republic of Nothing. Where else can a dead circus elephant, a long-dead Viking, the discovery of uranium, a raven-haired castaway who may be psychic, an anarchist turned politician, and refugees fleeing from the United States all be part of everyday life? Where else is eccentricity embraced with such open arms?

In this new readers' guide edition, complete with an afterword by Neil Peart, Lesley Choyce's novel about resilience, independence, and anarchy comes alive, leading readers to discover once again that everything is nothing and nothing is everything.

About the authors

No one has a clearer view of Atlantic Canada's literary endeavours over the past twenty years than Lesley Choyce. He is the founder of the literary journal Pottersfield Portfolio, and the publisher of Pottersfield Press. He has edited several fiction anthologies and has been the in-house editor of many books from Pottersfield Press including Making Waves, a collection of stories by emerging authors from Atlantic Canada. He is the author of more than fifty books in genres ranging from poetry and essays to autobiography, history and fiction for adults, young adults, and children. Among his recent books are the novels The Republic of Nothing, World Enough, and Cold Clear Morning, and the story collection Dance the Rocks Ashore. Choyce is the writer, host, and co-producer of the popular literary show television program, Off the Page with Lesley Choyce, which is broadcast across the country on Vision TV. He also teaches in the English department of Dalhousie University in Halifax and is leader of the rock band The Surf Poets.

Lesley Choyce's profile page

Neil Ellwood Peart, OC is a Canadian author and retired musician, best known as the drummer and primary lyricist for the rock band Rush. Peart has received numerous awards for his musical performances, including an induction into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1983, making him the youngest person ever so honoured.

Neil Peart's profile page


  • Winner, Dartmouth Book Award
  • Short-listed, Atlantic Booksellers' Choice Award

Editorial Reviews

"The Republic of Nothing is the product of a sprawling and original literary imagination, bustling with colourful and sympathetic characters, bursting with fanciful incident, and propelled by a relentless narrative drive. It is, quite simply, a good read."

<i>Pottersfield Portfolio</i>

"An unpredictable universe ... It's this unpredictability that makes the novel a success."

<i>Calgary Herald</i>

"Quirky yet compelling drama."

<i>Midwest Book Review</i>

"The written word is a powerful tool in Lesley Choyce's hands."

<i>Vancouver Sun</i>

"A national treasure."

<i>Ottawa Citizen</i>

"The Republic of Nothing is an unpredictable universe ... It's this unpredictability that makes the novel a success."

<i>Calgary Herald</i>

"The fact that the book has lasted for 10 years is a testimony to its popularity in these days when few books retain any life or fame after a year."

<i>Chronicle Herald</i>

"The writing is reminiscent, both in wit and sensibility, of Stephen Leacock and Garrison Keillor."

<i>Quill & Quire</i>

"The Republic of Nothing definitely has something to it."


"The Republic of Nothing weaves an intricate, sometimes hilarious, sometimes tragic narrative."

<i>Daily Gleaner</i>

"This is Choyce's best book yet ... a reminder that we all need to keep a little creative anarchy in our lives."


"Radiant with energy."

<i>Winnipeg Free Press</i>

"Choyce takes this deceptively simple story and ... fills it with characters who are wry, warm, funny, and magical. This is by far the author's best novel."

<i>Canadian Book Review Annual</i>

"The Republic of Nothing ... stamps the eccentricity of the rugged Eastern Shore in a reader’s mind forever."

<i>Atlantic Books Today</i>

"A contemporary classic in Canadian literature."

<i>Telegraph Journal</i>

"A little gem of a story that should be granted its appropriate label as a Canadian version of [Salman Rushdie's] Midnight's Children."

<i>Montreal Gazette</i>

"If you need a little Zen in your life, The Republic of Nothing is a good way to learn to extricate yourself from the beaten path and find the wonder of nothingness."


"Choyce has mastered the skill of an old-fashioned story-teller."


"A triple-decker of a yarn shot through with mythic possibilities, it's part fairy tale, part adventure story and part coming-of-age testimonial; it manages to be earnest and absurd, poetic and humorous all at once ... a pleasure to read."

<i>Globe and Mail</i>

"Don't miss The Republic of Nothing."


Other titles by Lesley Choyce

Other titles by Neil Peart