Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Fiction Short Stories (single Author)


by (author) Eliza Robertson

Penguin Group Canada
Initial publish date
Aug 2014
Short Stories (single author), Coming of Age, Literary
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2014
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


Shortlisted for the 2016 Canadian Authors Association Emerging Writer Award

From windswept Pacific beaches to the inner reaches of the human heart, Wallflower is a shimmering and often surprising journey of discovery, with many unexpected turns along the way. Robertson has created a cast of unique and wholly engaging characters. Here there are swindlers and innocents, unlikely heroes and gritty survivors; they teach us how to trap humming birds, relinquish dreams gracefully, and feed raccoons without getting bitten. “Wish you were here” letters on a road trip parallel a woman’s painful trip into her family’s dysfunctional past; reminiscences of a beloved sibling are inextricably bound up with calamity … and roommate problems lead to a surprising (and skin-crawling) revelation. Robertson smashes stereotypes even as she shows us remarkable new ways of experiencing the world—and of relating to our fellow human beings.

Quirky and masterful, Wallflowers is a bouquet of unconventional delights from a powerful new voice.

About the author

Eliza Robertson was born in Vancouver and grew up on Vancouver Island. She studied creative writing and political science at the University of Victoria, then pursued her M.A. in prose fiction at the University of East Anglia, where she received a Man Booker Scholarship and the Curtis Brown Prize for best writer. In Canada, she has won three national fiction contests. Most recently, she was a finalist for the 2013 CBC Short Story Prize, won the 2013 Commonwealth Regional Prize for her piece “We Walked on Water,” and was shortlisted for the 2013 Journey Prize. She lives in Victoria.

Eliza Robertson's profile page


  • Short-listed, Canadian Authors Association Emerging Writer Award

Editorial Reviews

“A stunning collection, bold and diverse, with a youthful verve but with the sort of polish one expects from more seasoned writers…. A powerful, thought-provoking and rewarding read.” —Vancouver Sun

“Beautifully executed, wrought with evident care and the kind of artistry that is born much more easily than it can be taught.” —Globe and Mail

“An absolutely stunning collection. Without question it announces a major talent…. There are doubtless many awards in her future.” —Toronto Star

“Tremulous, tender, indeed, Munro-esque.” —Maclean's

“A little bit dark. A little bit weird. Eliza Robertson is Canada’s next big lit star.” —Flare

Wallflowers contains great story after great story after great story … proof that this up-and-coming writer has finally arrived.” —Winnipeg Free Press

“Wonderfully weird.” —Elle

“Sentence by sentence, rhythm for rhythm, Robertson’s prose can stand alongside any writer I think to name. But her style and her stories are uniquely her own, at once observant and playful, sometimes wise, sometimes ironic, always lyrical and always haunting. These aren’t just windows into characters’ lives: they’re windows into human experience.” —D.W. Wilson, author of Ballistics

“This is a moving and surprising collection of stories. Wallflowers has such a variety of subjects and voices—which in itself I admire—but there’s unity in the presence of objects, those inanimate things that sit on the bedside and watch our tragedies unfold. It feels like a history of the objects we reach for, the things we can’t get, and the things that outlast everyone. Robertson is a writer who has a kinship with those objects–detached, playful, watching, wise to the fact that these dramas will play out.” —Colin McAdam, author of A Beautiful Truth

“With grace, beauty and true grit, Eliza Robertson makes the familiar shockingly and blindingly fresh, like the world after a cleansing rain. A stripper’s deodorized armpits glow under black lights, a desperate boy sails to China, levies burst, and there’s fire and conflagrations of the soul. There are no wallflowers here, only stories dancing to their fierce heartbeats right up to the edge of the cliff—and sometimes over.” —Zsuzsi Gartner, author of Better Living Through Plastic Explosives

“Confirms her as a significant new talent. The ordinary and everyday become imbued with a strange significance, albeit with a feather-light touch; Robertson’s prose is never weighed down, even as it imparts a sense of uneasiness, anticipation. Robertson lets images vibrate with possibilities. Almost every story, individually, is sharp, illuminating.” — Independent on Sunday

“The stories in Eliza Robertson’s first collection are filled with lush flora and fauna, both real and figurative. Assured and ambitious.” —The Guardian (UK)

“Her stories display a startlingly original way of looking at the world, finding magic and mystery in ordinary life. An exciting new voice in short fiction.” —The Lady

“Robertson is often thus adventurous when it comes to her structures. It’s the richness of her prose that draws one in.” —Independent (UK)

“Captivating. Amid the catastrophe, there is a delicate beauty in the details Robertson selects.” —Scotland on Sunday (UK)

“An unsettling debut collection of short stories.” —Mail on Sunday (UK)

Wallflowers is perfect for dipping in and out of, like a bag of pick ’n’ mix; the stories have varied settings and the narrators are all snappingly distinct. And like pick ’n’ mix, it’s difficult to stop after just one.” —Metro (UK)

“A young writer who succeeds in imagining the world afresh.” —Independent

“Reading Wallflowers, Eliza Robertson’s debut story collection, is like taking a solo swim across a chilly lake. You become mesmerized by details—the silken texture of the water, the cool air on your arms as they rise and fall, the rhythm of your breath, the dark scrub of trees on the distant shore—without ever forgetting the mysteries and potential dangers that lurk beneath. In this captivating book, people drown in gray water, shacks burn on stony beaches, planes crash into rivers, hummingbirds are trapped and tethered to wrists, neighborhoods flood. Grief and loss cast long shadows over these stories, which sometimes bring us to the threshold of disaster and sometimes explore its aftermath.” —New York Times Book Review

Other titles by

Related lists