Annabel by Kathleen Winter
A Novel

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Kathleen Winter’s luminous debut novel is a deeply affecting portrait of life in an enchanting seaside town and the trials of growing up unique in a restrictive environment.

In 1968, into the devastating, spare atmosphere of the remote coastal town of Labrador, Canada, a child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor fully girl, but both at once. Only three people are privy to the secret—the baby’s parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbor and midwife, Thomasina. Though Treadway makes the difficult decision to raise the child as a boy named Wayne, the women continue to quietly nurture the boy’s female side. And as Wayne grows into adulthood within the hyper-masculine hunting society of his father, his shadow-self, a girl he thinks of as “Annabel,” is never entirely extinguished.

Kathleen Winter has crafted a literary gem about the urge to unveil mysterious truth in a culture that shuns contradiction, and the body’s insistence on coming home. A daringly unusual debut full of unforgettable beauty, Annabel introduces a remarkable new voice to American readers.

About Kathleen Winter

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Kathleen Winter's Annabel was a New York Times Editors' Choice, short-listed for The Orange Prize for Fiction, and a finalist for all three of Canada's major literary awards: The Scotiabank Giller Prize, Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction. Her first collection of short stories, boYs, was the winner of both the Winterset Award and the 2006 Metcalf-Rooke Award. A long-time resident of St. John's, Newfoundland, Winter now lives in Montreal. Visit her blog at
Published January 4, 2011 by Grove Press, Black Cat. 480 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Annabel

Kirkus Reviews

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In a remote coastal town in Newfoundland in the 1970s, a young person of mixed gender struggles for identity, acceptance and understanding

Dec 18 2010 | Read Full Review of Annabel: A Novel

The New York Times

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As Wayne begins to make demands to free his vagina, “Annabel, inside Wayne, .

Jan 07 2011 | Read Full Review of Annabel: A Novel

The Guardian

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Kathleen Winter gives us a vivid picture of Labrador, and its frontier aspect – chill winds, hard work, taciturn hunters who live half the year out in the bush – makes it the perfect setting for a story about isolation.

Apr 12 2011 | Read Full Review of Annabel: A Novel


Thomasina, a close friend of Jacinta's and the midwife who delivered Wayne, provides his female identity with the name Annabel, an identity that Jacinta secretly mourns.

Jun 02 2011 | Read Full Review of Annabel: A Novel

National Post

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Annabel By Kathleen Winter Anansi 320 pp.; $32.95 Reviewed by Katherine Govier This first novel by Newfoundland-born, Montreal-resident Kathleen Winter is one of those books in which the land is a prime mover, determining the flow of events relentlessly as it moves from velvety black winter...

Jun 26 2010 | Read Full Review of Annabel: A Novel

The Bookbag

Winter's style is flowing, very easy to read and she takes plenty of time and patience to tell us all about Wayne and his world although at times I felt the story was a little laboured and lacked some sparkle.

Feb 04 2012 | Read Full Review of Annabel: A Novel

MostlyFiction Book Reviews

His father, Treadway, tries to get Wayne to be “one of the guys” and keeps hoping Wayne will join in with other boys in their activities.

Jan 06 2011 | Read Full Review of Annabel: A Novel

The New Yorker

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Mar 07 2011 | Read Full Review of Annabel: A Novel

Lambda Literary

Although babies being born intersex is relatively common—approximately one in every 1,500 births according to the Intersex Society of North America, it is exceedingly rare for there to be intersex characters in literature.

Jan 10 2011 | Read Full Review of Annabel: A Novel

Montreal Gazette

But Thomasina - and Winter- imply Wayne's condition is the stuff of myth: A teacher, Thomasina assigns Wayne a project about the god Hermaphrodite.

Nov 02 2010 | Read Full Review of Annabel: A Novel

This Magazine

“Some know, from birth, that their homeland has a respiratory system, that it pulls energy from rock and mountain and water and gravitational activity beyond earth, and that it breathes energy in return,” Winter writes.

Nov 26 2010 | Read Full Review of Annabel: A Novel

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