Autobiography of Childhood by Sina Queyras

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Though it follows a linear trajectory, this is far from a plot-driven novel. Heavy on interiority and light on dialogue, Autobiography of Childhood is a layered, reflective read.
-National Post arts

Synopsis

"Queyras' novel scores the jagged incisions of childhood. How her characters escape or embrace or succumb to the damage, she manages through an exquisite prose that cannot comfort them, nor ease us. Yes we cannot help but be held by the language."—Dionne Brand

Five siblings, all haunted by the death of a brother in their youth. One winter day, when another of them will be taken by cancer.

Guddy is struggling to fly across the continent in a snowstorm to see her sister while she still can. Jerry, avoiding the phone, hits the highway, driving as fast as he can away from his back pain and his son. Bjarne, just back from six years on the streets, is watching Judge Judy, trying to quiet the voices in his head. Annie is cleaning her mother's trailer and ducking her questions. And then there's Therese, trying to forgive them all before it's too late.

As all five are forced to react—or to choose to not react—to the news of Therese's impending death, their actions weave a nuanced portrait of a family, of the devastating reach of childhood grief.

What if thinking is all we have at the end of the day? This transcendent first novel from award-winning poet Sina Queyras tells the story of childhood by recreating the mind at work grappling with it: noticing, reaching, loving, and flailing.

Sina Queyras' last collection of poetry, Expressway, was nominated for a Governor General's Award and won Gold at the National Magazine Awards. Her previous collection Lemon Hound won a Lambda Award and the Pat Lowther Award, and she is the winner of the 2012 Friends of Literature Award. She is a blogger for Harriet, the Poetry Foundation's blog.


 

About Sina Queyras

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Sina Queyras's last collection of poetry, Expressway, was nominated for a Governor General's Award and won Gold at the National Magazine Awards. Her previous collection Lemon Hound won a Lambda Award and the Pat Lowther Award. She has taught creative writing at Rutgers, Haverford and Concordia University in Montreal where she now resides. She is a blogger for Harriet, the Poetry Foundation's blog.
 
Published April 17, 2012 by Coach House Books. 201 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Shawn Syms on Dec 23 2011

Though it follows a linear trajectory, this is far from a plot-driven novel. Heavy on interiority and light on dialogue, Autobiography of Childhood is a layered, reflective read.

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