Cities of Refuge
By Michael Helm
(Tin House Books, Paperback, 9781935639497, 424pp.)
Publication Date: February 2013
List Price: $15.95*
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Awards and Honors:
Finalist for the Rogers Writers Trust Fiction Award for Cities of Refuge
Globe and Mail "Book of the Year" -- In the Place of Last Things
Globe and Mail "Book of the Year" -- Cities of Refuge
Now magazine Book of the Year -- Cities of Refuge
Finalist for the Giller Prize for The Projectionist
Finalist for the Trillium Award for The Projectionist
Finalist for the regional Commonwealth Prize, Best Book for In the Place of Last Things
Finalist for the Rogers Writers Trust Fiction Award for In the Place of last Things
Praise for Cities of Refuge
"Standout . . . .[T]his is a powerful depiction of the struggle to overcome adversity."
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"A powerful and intricate novel about political guilt in contemporary times, intellectually astute and with crystalline writing. Cities of Refuge weaves together the clashes of culture, alongside that of a father and a daughter, to make large issues intimate and in the end heartbreaking."
"Michael Helm delivers us to the rarified and unsettling regions of the heart and mind, with winning results: he is a capable navigator, a superb craftsman, and Cities of Refuge is a humane and harrowing novel."
Patrick DeWitt, author of The Sisters Brothers
"Cities of Refuge is an unsettling and powerful novel that beautifully engages the complexities of memory, trauma, and history."
Dana Spiotta, author of Stone Arabia and Eat the Document
"The profound empathy with which Michael Helm imagines his characters into multidimensional life is only one of his many, great gifts. As Cities of Refuge demonstrates, he is also a spectacularly good storyteller and prose stylist with a range and nerve that sets him apart from almost every other writer of his generation."
Barbara Gowdy, author of Helpless
"[W]hat [Helm] shows in a remarkable display of multiple-perspective sympathy, is how, in a world where we’re all inter-connected as never before, guilt and innocence are all but impossible to apportion with finality.... Cities of Refuge establishes him as one of Canada’s most commanding writers."
"Cities of Refuge's.... thematic breadth pushes Helm into the front ranks of Canadian novelists."
Quill and Quire
"[A] stunning read..., gripping, thought-provoking, ultimately haunting.... Cities of Refuge may be the future of The Canadian Novel: intrinsically and internally varied, polyvalent, confident, contemporary and challenging. If this is the future, bring it on."
Helm writes delicately and empathetically, using a photographer’s eye and poet’s lyricism to ... illuminate the consequences of violence and loss.”
"Michael Helm’s Cities of Refuge is an exceptionally well-crafted and ambitious novel. . . . In it, the personal is intertwined with the political, the past with the present, and the familiar with the unexpected."
Let me state simply that this is one of the finest books I have read in recent years. This is not just a novel set in Toronto; it is about Toronto and it is the most discerning description of the city since Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion. In his luminous prose, Helm has dared to go beyond the psychological level to the level of spirit.”
Literary Review of Canada