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Fiction General

This Will Be Difficult To Explain and Other Stories

by (author) Johanna Skibsrud

Penguin Group Canada
Initial publish date
Sep 2011
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2011
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2012
    List Price

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With this collection of wise, querying stories, Giller Prize winner Johanna Skibsrud introduces an astonishing array of characters, showing us through their eyes what even they cannot see and uncorking minor epiphanies in the middle of ordinary days. These stories takes readers from South Dakota to Paris to Japan, into art galleries, foreign apartments, farms, and beach hotels, and shows us the liberating bewilderment of characters who come face to face with what they didn’t know they didn’t know.

Youth confronted with the mutterings of old age, restlessness bounded by the muddy confines of a backyard garden, callow hope coming up against the exigencies of everyday life—these are the tensions that weave through the everyday existence of Skibsrud’s characters. The often conflicting, sometimes overlapping desires for intimacy and for radical freedom come to life in the lyrical, probing language that gives this collection its shape. Insightful and masterfully crafted, these stories bear the mark of one of Canada’s most remarkable voices and linger in the mind long after the final page has been turned.

About the author

Johanna Skibsrud is a novelist, poet and Assistant Professor of English at the University of Arizona. Her debut novel, The Sentimentalists, was awarded the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize, making her the youngest writer to win Canada's most prestigious literary prize. The book was subsequently shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Award and is currently translated into five languages. The New York Times Book Review describes her most recent novel, Quartet for the End of Time (Norton 2014) as a "haunting" exploration of "the complexity of human relationships and the myriad ways in which identity can be malleable." "It is exhilarating", writes the Washington Post, "to join a novelist working at these bracing heights." Johanna is also the author of two collections of short fiction: This Will Be Difficult to Explain (2011; shortlisted for the Danuta Gleed Award) and Tiger, Tiger (2018), a children's book, and three books of poetry. Her latest poetry collection, The Description of the World (2016), was the recipient of the 2017 Canadian Author's Association for Poetry and the 2017 Fred Cogswell Award. Johanna's poems and stories have been published in Zoetrope, Ecotone, and Glimmertrain Magazine, among numerous other journals. Her scholarly essays have appeared in, among other places, The Luminary, Excursions, Mosaic, TIES, and The Brock Review. A critical monograph titled The Poetic Imperative: A Speculative Aesthetics is forthcoming. A novel, Island, will also be published by Hamish Hamilton Canada in fall 2019.

Johanna Skibsrud's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“[Skibsrud's] prose is as taut as Alice Munro’s, her plots as spare as Mavis Gallant’s. Her characters have startlingly inner lives...Skibsrud’s new book…[is] just as assured [as her first], and it has the same emotional punch.” - Toronto Life
"These being good short stories, the inevitable comparisons to Canada's lionesses of the form, Alice Munro and Mavis Gallant, are already being trotted out. And for once the comparisons have merit. . . she has the undeniable, rare greatness they both possess. One can only hope she'll be as prolific." - Toronto Star

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