Weaving together five heartbreaking stories, Bill Gaston transforms the cruelty of life into something not only beautiful but heartwarming.
A recently divorced, early retiree accidentally burns down his house on the day he pays off the mortgage, only to discover that for the first time in his life he’s forgotten to pay a bill: his insurance premium. An old friend of his, a middle-aged musician, prepares for her suicide to end the pain of esophageal cancer. Her father, who left his family to study Buddhism in Nepal, ends his days in a Toronto facility for Alzheimer’s patients. The three are tied together not only by their bonds of affection, but by a book called The World, written by the old man in his youth. The book, possibly biographical, tells the story of a historian who unearths a cache of letters, written in Chinese, in an abandoned leper colony off the coast of Victoria. He and the young Chinese translator fall in love, only to betray each other in the cruellest way possible, each violating what the other reveres most.
BILL GASTON is the author of seven novels and six collections of short fiction. He teaches at the University of Victoria and is the winner of numerous awards, including the 2003 inaugural Timothy Findley Lifetime Achievement Award and the CBC/Canadian Literary Award. Mount Appetite, one of his collections of short stories, was shortlisted for the 2002 Giller Prize, and another, Gargoyles, was shortlisted for the 2006 Governor General’s Award for Fiction. His most recent novel, The World, won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, and his most recent story collection, Juliet Was a Surprise, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction.
"The World is perhaps Bill Gaston's greatest work, and Bill Gaston is one of our greatest writers." - David Adams Richards
"Oh, is this a book! What stories, what writing, what feeling, what depth, what humour.. If it's possible to cram a world of human existence into a single piece of CanLit, and to do so with grace, understatement, wry humour, respect and love, then Bill Gaston has done just that." - Globe and Mail
"A rich, rewarding novel with many deft touches and more than a few twists and turns... A classic." - Vancouver Sun