Plume Books, Paperback, 9780452286474, 290pp.
Publication Date: August 3, 2004
When black cloaked Sarah Canary wanders into a railway camp in the Washington territories in 1873, Chin Ah Kin is ordered by his uncle to escort "the ugliest woman he could imagine" away. Far away. But Chin soon becomes the follower. In the first of many such instances, they are separated, both resurfacing some days later at an insane asylum. Chin has run afoul of the law and Sarah has been committed for observation. Their escape from the asylum in the company of another inmate sets into motion a series of adventures and misadventures that are at once hilarious, deeply moving, and downright terrifying.
“Powerfully imagined...Drop everything and follow Sarah Canary.... Humor and horror, history and myth dance cheek to cheek in this Jack London meets L. Frank Baum world.... Here is a work that manages to be at the same time (and often in the same sentence) dark and deep and fun.” —The Washington Post Book World
“Unforgettable... Incandescent…Bewitching.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Unexpectedly moving.” —The New Yorker
“A playful romp through the Pacific Northwest at the end of the last century, mixing poetry and newspaper reports into a wild yarn.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Sarah Canary is certainly an enchanted and enchanting narrative, and Karen Fowler has found her way from the details of what we take to be our history, our past, to the legend that is our true present. Her powers of evocation of character and consequence, her storytelling gifts, are exhilarating, and she has given us, at the beginning of her writing life, a work with the suggestive authority—and the evanescent, haunting power—of myth.” —W.S. Merwin
“Remarkable…A larger than life, magical realist Western that is funny, mysterious, and harrowing by turns…Its imaginative virtuosity and stylistic resources announce Karen Joy Fowler as a major writer.” —New York Newsday
“Part adventure story, part history lesson, part flight of marvelous fancy, Sarah Canary is among the very best novels I have read this year.” —San Diego Tribune
“Powerful…Touching…Hilarious…Fowler interweaves historical fact and fiction, creating almost real world, somewhat along the lines of E. L. Doctorow’s Ragtime.” —Locus
“[A] quirky, original tale…marvelously framed in the events and scenery of the Northwest frontier.” —San Antonio Express-News
“Remarkable…A fascinating romp, in which actual events are so cleverly intertwined with the author’s fanciful inventions that the reader grows unsure which to disbelieve.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)