Information about the author.
After you’ve lost it all—job, house, savings, future—what have you got left? A piercing new novel of our times by one of Canada’s finest fiction writers.
On a chilly early morning in late spring, Joe Beaudry and his wife, Laurie, wake up in circumstances that would challenge saints: they are on the lam in a stolen motorhome on the edge of a Walmart parking lot in Regina, Saskatchewan. They’ve gone bust, spectacularly: lost the house that was Joe’s gift from his dad, lost the business Joe started when he got married, and stuck his ancient father in a nursing home in Winnipeg so they could flee their creditors. Joe knows the reality of the situation, and is trying to raise enough cash to get them both to Fort McMurray where he hopes he can find work. But Laurie, even though she watched Joe trash their high-end appliances with a sledgehammer when the yard sale didn’t deliver enough cash, somehow thinks it’s…[more]
Katherine (Katya) Vogt is now an old woman living in Winnipeg, but the story of how she and her family came to Canada begins in Russia in 1910, on a wealthy Mennonite estate. Here they lived in a world bounded by the prosperity of their landlords and by the poverty and disgruntlement of the Russian workers who toil on the estate. But in the wake of the First World War, the tensions engulfing the country begin to intrude on the community, leading to an unspeakable act of violence. In the aftermath of that violence, and in the difficult years that follow, Katya tries to come to terms with the terrible events that befell her and her family.
In lucid, spellbinding prose, Birdsell vividly evokes time and place, and the unease that existed in a county on the brink of revolutionary change. The Russländer is a powerful and moving story of ordinary people who lived through extraordinary times.
Scriptwriter Amy Barber travels by car from Toronto to Winnipeg with her younger lover, Piotr, a Polish filmmaker. This is a journey shadowed by the future, and the past. The narrative moves from a small Manitoba town during one extraordinary hot summer at the close of the fifties when the death of Amy’s sister changes everything, to the time when Amy marries, goes to live in the city, and begins to have reason to fear for her young son’s well-being. Birdsell’s haunting, almost tactile evocation of the dangerous territory of the past is infused with an uneasy nostalgia. Her unforgettable characters are portrayed as complex, fallible beings and, through them, she explores the private, sometimes cruel realm of relationships and the universal quest for an often elusive self-acceptance.