Publication Date: June 3, 2008
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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Barbara Gowdy’s outrageous, hilarious, disturbing, and compassionate novel is about the Canary family, their immoderate passions and eccentricities, and their secret lives and histories. The deepest secret of all is harbored in the silence of the youngest daughter, Joan, who doesn’t grow, who doesn’t speak, but who can play the piano like Mozart though she’s never had a lesson. Joan is a mystery, and in the novel’s stunning climax her family comes to understand that each of them is a mystery, as marvelous as Joan, as irreducible as the mystery of life itself. In its compassionate investigation of moral truths and its bold embrace of the fractured nature of every one of its characters, Mister Sandman attains the heightened quality of a modern-day parable.
Barbara Gowdy is the award-winning author of six novels and the short story collection We So Seldom Look on Love. Her works have appeared to critical acclaim in thirteen countries, and in her native Canada, Mister Sandman was a finalist for both the Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Award.
“Count this wickedly funny and moving novel by a Canadian writer the year’s sleeper. It’s unlikely that anything else will come along that will equal its combination of audacious concept, inspired characterization, frank sexuality, ribald humor and poignant message… Gowdy’s raucous, tender love is a find indeed.” — Publishers Weekly (A Best Book of the Year)
“Mister Sandman displays the same quirkiness, the same mordant sense of humor, the same ear for the vernacular, the same innocent-eyed acceptance of the bizarre, that characterizes her two previous novels…Gowdy surprises and delights; she also—which is rare—gives us the moments which are at the same time preposterous and strangely moving.” — Margaret Atwood, Times Literary Supplement (“Best Books of the Year”)
“One of the strangest—and most heartwarming—paeans to family ties you'll ever read. A+.” — Entertainment Weekly
“ The family at the center of Mister Sandman is uniquely, whimsically dysfunctional. But it is the unexpected birth of Joan Canary, half idiot savant and half changeling, that catalyzes the individual idiosyncrasies and personal secrets of the people around her, melding them into a clan defined by its eccentricity…Joan’s possibly brain-damaged brilliance lies at the heart of both the narrative and the symbolism of this delightfully quirky novel, in which the Canary family’s life emerges as a weird yet often affecting group composition.’” — The New York Times Book Review
“With Mister Sandman, Gowdy will surely join the ranks of Lorrie Moore, Kazuo Ishiguro and other great dark-humored literary beguilers. The novel is a true literary original, a perfectly pitched creation in which story, ideas and authorial voice merge so explosively, so felicitously that the reader feels compelled to exclaim ‘Yes!’ on almost every page.” — L.A. Weekly
“There is an astonishing sensibility in Barbara Gowdy’s Mister Sandman, which bounds, spritelike, into the farthest corners of lunacy while staying tethered to the author’s very real understanding of love.” — Elle (A Best Book of the Year)
“It’s truly a monumentally entertaining, brilliantly constructed novel...Barbara Gowdy is poised to be the next big thing.” — Bloomsbury Review