Scotiabank Giller-winner Sean Michaels is back with his widely anticipated second novel, The Wagers, a deeply satisfying story of long odds, magical heists and the dizzying gamble of life. Where does luck come from? What is it worth? And how much of it do you need to be happy?
Theo Potiris is a grocer and a comedian who never repeats his jokes. After 15 years of open mics, he's still waiting for his break--bicycling to the comedy club at night, stacking plums at his family's grand and ramshackle supermarket by day. His girlfriend is halfway around the world, searching for enlightenment with a patron who happens to be the richest man on Earth, and when two other loved-ones get struck by bolts from the blue, Theo decides he can't keep chasing his old dreams any longer. He resolves to trade his wishes in, pursuing a bigger score.
Here Sean Michaels' novel takes a surprise left turn, away from the price of milk and into a shabby, beautiful, imaginary Montreal where peacocks strut on street corners and gamblers bet on sunny days. Theo uncovers a mysterious association of sports-obsessed mathematicians, The Rabbit's Foot, which is turning probability into riches, and the vigilante No Name Gang, who steal luck from those who have taken more than their fair share. Bursting with sheer story-telling pleasure and stylish prose, The Wagers carries you along on wave after wave of invention--a literary motorcycle chase that soon has you wondering about the randomness of good fortune and all the ways we choose to wage our lives.
SEAN MICHAELS is a novelist, short-story writer and critic. Born in Stirling, Scotland, and raised in Ottawa, he eventually settled in Montreal, where he founded the pioneering music blog Said the Gramophone. His award-winning writing has also appeared in The Observer, McSweeney's, The Guardian, Pitchfork, Maisonneuve, and The Globe and Mail. Sean's debut novel, Us Conductors, received the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the QWF Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and was nominated for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, the Kirkus Prize for Fiction, the International DUBLIN Literary Award, and (in translation) the Prix des libraires de Quebec. He enjoys cold water, warm madeleines and songs with colours in their titles.
Shortlisted for the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction
One of CBC Books’s 20 Canadian books to read in September
One of Toronto Star’s 35 books to read in Fall 2019
One of NOW’s 17 must-read books for Fall 2019
“The Wagers is a surprising, delightful book. Full of humour and adventure, the novel brims with rich detail and a generous outlook on life. . . . The Wagers captures the Montreal we live in, with all its improbable and otherworldly charms.” —Saleema Nawaz, author of Songs for the End of the World
“This novel is like a literary fireworks display, an explosion of joke-filled energy that manages to be a novel of ideas, but one delivered as if it were a caper story. . . . I had more fun reading this book than I have with any other novel for a very long time.” —Antanas Sileika, The Globe and Mail
“It might look like we’re being set up for a Marc Maron narrative: a brainy but unfocused comic scuffling on the margins, increasingly desperate, only to score an against-the-odds success in middle age. . . . Suffice to say that the idea of luck plays a central part, and that it takes the novel into speculative realms that will require a leap of faith on the reader’s part. It’s a leap most will be happy to make, such is the author’s deft hand and delightfully skewed world view.” —Montreal Gazette
“‘I like books that are like trap doors—you plunge into another tale and the book you think you’re reading abruptly becomes another book,’ Michaels says. The Wagers does this twice, before leaving a smile on your face and a Rihanna song stuck in your head. All we can hope for is the one-two-step of life, art and luck will work out so well for each of us, too.” —The Coast (Halifax)
“[A] thoughtful, offbeat novel. . . . Constantly fascinating.” —Kirkus Reviews
“The Wagers is a work of great poise and maturity. But it’s also just plain fun, gloriously unafraid to play and laugh and throw jokes out into the room to see whether they land.” —Montreal Review of Books
“What starts out as a fairly realistic drama eventually morphs into a surreal caper. . . . Some readers will be overwhelmed by the whimsy of the story, while others will enjoy Michaels’s unflagging imagination.” —Publishers Weekly