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Elizabeth Hay - book author

From Elizabeth Hay's web site:
"Elizabeth Hay was born in Owen Sound, Ontario, the daughter of a high school principal and a painter, and one of four children. When she was fifteen, a year in England opened up her world and set her on the path to becoming a writer. She attended the University of Toronto, then moved out west, and in 1974 went north to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. For the next ten years she worked as a CBC radio broadcaster in Yellowknife, Winnipeg, and Toronto, and eventually freelanced from Mexico. In 1986 she moved from Mexico to New York City, and in 1992, with her husband and two children, she returned to Canada, settling in Ottawa, where she has lived ever since.

In 2007 Elizabeth Hay's third novel, Late Nights on Air, won the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Her first novel was A Student of Weather (2000), a finalist for the Giller Prize, the Ottawa Book Award, and the Pearson Canada Reader's Choice Award at The Word on the Street, and winner of the CAA MOSAID Technologies Inc. Award for Fiction and the TORGI Award. Her second novel, Garbo Laughs (2003), won the Ottawa Book Award and was shortlisted for the Governor General's Award. Hay is also the author of Crossing the Snow Line (stories, 1989); The Only Snow in Havana (non-fiction, 1992), which was a co-winner of the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-fiction; Captivity Tales: Canadians in New York (non-fiction, 1993), and Small Change (stories, 1997), which was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award, the Trillium Book Award, and the Rogers Communications Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Hay received the Marian Engel Award for her body of work in 2002."

Elizabeth Hay is the author of books: Late Nights on Air, Alone in the Classroom, A Student of Weather, His Whole Life, All Things Consoled: A Daughter's Memoir, Garbo Laughs, Small Change, The Only Snow in Havana, Captivity Tales: Canadians in New York, Crossing The Snow Line

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Author Books

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01
The eagerly anticipated novel from the bestselling author of A Student of Weather and Garbo Laughs.

Harry Boyd, a hard-bitten refugee from failure in Toronto television, has returned to a small radio station in the Canadian North. There, in Yellowknife, in the summer of 1975, he falls in love with a voice on air, though the real woman, Dido Paris, is both a surprise and even more than he imagined.

Dido and Harry are part of the cast of eccentric, utterly loveable characters, all transplants from elsewhere, who form an unlikely group at the station. Their loves and longings, their rivalries and entanglements, the stories of their pasts and what brought each of them to the North, form the centre. One summer, on a canoe trip four of them make into the Arctic wilderness (following in the steps of the legendary Englishman John Hornby, who, along with his small party, starved to death in the barrens in 1927), they find the balance of love shifting, much as the balance of power in the North is being changed by the proposed Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline, which threatens to displace Native people from their land.

Elizabeth Hay has been compared to Annie Proulx, Alice Hoffman, and Isabel Allende, yet she is uniquely herself. With unforgettable characters, vividly evoked settings, in this new novel, Hay brings to bear her skewering intelligence into the frailties of the human heart and her ability to tell a spellbinding story. Written in gorgeous prose, laced with dark humour, Late Nights on Air is Hay’s most seductive and accomplished novel yet.

02
In a small prairie school in 1929, Connie Flood helps a backward student, Michael Graves, learn how to read. Observing them and darkening their lives is the principal, Parley Burns, whose strange behaviour culminates in an attack so disturbing its repercussions continue to the present day.

Connie’s niece, Anne, tells the story. Impelled by curiosity about her dynamic, adventurous aunt and her more conventional mother, she revisits Connie’s past and her mother’s broken childhood. In the process, she unravels the enigma of Parley Burns and the mysterious (and unrelated) deaths of two young girls. As the novel moves deeper into their lives, the triangle of principal, teacher, student opens out into other emotional triangles – aunt, niece, lover; mother, daughter, granddaughter – until a sudden, capsizing love thrusts Anne herself into a newly independent life. 

This spellbinding tale – set in Saskatchewan and the Ottawa Valleycrosses generations and cuts to the bone. It probes the roots of obsessive love and hate, how the hurts and desires of childhood persist and are passed on as if in the blood. It lays bare the urgency of discovering what we were never told about the past. And it celebrates the process of becoming who we are in a world full of startling connections that lie just out of sight.

Following her award-winning, #1 bestselling Late Nights on Air, Alone in the Classroom is Elizabeth Hay’s most intricate, compelling, and seductive novel yet
03
From some accidents of love and weather we never quite recover. At the worst of the Prairie dust bowl of the 1930s, a young man appears out of a blizzard and forever alters the lives of two sisters. There is the beautiful, fastidious Lucinda, and the tricky and tenacious Norma Joyce, at first a strange, self-possessed child, later a woman who learns something of self-forgiveness and of the redemptive nature of art. Their rivalry sets the stage for all that follows in a narrative spanning over thirty years, beginning in Saskatchewan and moving, in the decades following the war, to Ottawa and New York City. Disarming, vividly told, unforgettable, this is a story about the mistakes we make that never go away, about how the things we want to keep vanish and the things we want to lose return to haunt us.
04
Starting with something as simple as a boy who wants a dog, His Whole Life takes us into a richly intimate world where everything that matters to him is at risk: family, nature, home.   

At the outset ten-year-old Jim and his Canadian mother and American father are on a journey from New York City to a lake in eastern Ontario during the last hot days of August. What unfolds is a completely enveloping story that spans a few pivotal years of his youth. Moving from city to country, summer to winter, wellbeing to illness, the novel charts the deepening bond between mother and son even as the family comes apart.

Set in the mid-1990s, when Quebec is on the verge of leaving Canada, this captivating novel is an unconventional coming of age story as only Elizabeth Hay could tell it. It draws readers in with its warmth, wisdom, its vivid sense of place, its searching honesty, and nuanced portrait of the lives of one family and those closest to it. Hay explores the mystery of how members of a family can hurt each other so deeply, and remember those hurts in such detail, yet find openings that shock them with love and forgiveness. This is vintage Elizabeth Hay at the height of her powers.
05
Elizabeth Hay, one of Canada's most beloved novelists has written a poignant, complex, and hugely resonant memoir about the shift she experienced between being her parents' daughter to their guardian and caregiver.

As the daughter takes charge, and the writer takes notes, her mother and father are like two legendary icebergs floating south. They melt into the ocean of partial, painful, inconsistent, and funny stories that a family makes over time. Hay's eloquent memoir distills these stories into basic truths about parents and children and their efforts of understanding.

With her uncommon sharpness and wit, Elizabeth Hay offers her insights into the peculiarities of her family's dynamics--her parents' marriage, sibling rivalries, miscommunications that spur decades of resentment all matched by true and genuine love and devotion. Her parents are each startling characters in their own right--her mother is a true skinflint who would rather serve up wormy soup (twice) than throw away an ancient packet of "perfectly good" mix; her father is a proud and well-mannered man with a temper that can be explosive.

All Things Consoled is a startlingly beautiful memoir that addresses the exquisite agony of family, the unstoppable force of dementia, and the inevitability of aging.
06
A funny, sad-eyed, deliciously entertaining novel about a woman caught in a tug of war between real life and the films of the past.

Inflamed by the movies she was deprived of as a child, Harriet Browning forms a Friday-night movie club with three companions-of-the-screen: a boy who loves Frank Sinatra, a girl with Bette Davis eyes, and an earthy sidekick named after Dinah Shore.

Into this idiosyncratic world, in time with the devastating ice storm of 1998, come two refugees from Hollywood: Harriet’s Aunt Leah, the jaded widow of a screenwriter blacklisted in the 1950s, and her sardonic, often overbearing stepson, Jack. They bring harsh reality and illuminate the pull of family and friendship, the sting of infidelity and revenge, the shock of illness and sudden loss.

Poignant, brilliant, and delightfully droll, Garbo Laughs reveals how the dramas of everyday life are sometimes the most astonishing of all.
07
A collection of linked stories that navigate the difficult realm of friendship, charting its beginnings and endings, its intimacies and betrayals, its joys and humiliations.
08
In one of the earliest works by the 2007 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner, Elizabeth Hay collects a series of reflections on life, identity, history, and love, drifting through her many homes — Yellowknife, Mexico City, Toronto, and New York City — to consider Canadian identity. Hay reflects on the idea of being Canadian — what it means, who we are, how do we act, how do we live — and compares it to the world around her in stunning detail, drawing the disparate locations together by their connection to the history of the early Canadian fur trade and our hearty adoration of snow. She writes of the heart of a country, the history of a people that live on the brink of identity. Blending memoir, biography, and history in a provocative intensity, Hay’s style and talent shines through in this early work, proving her well on the road to her long and lustrous career.
09
This early non-fiction work by critically acclaimed novelist Elizabeth Hay displays the qualities that have resonated with readers --- the pitch-perfect register of human psychology, the clear, unsentimental yet intimate sentences --- in her bestselling novels "A Student of Weather," "Garbo Laughs," "Late Nights on Air," and "Alone In the Classroom.""Captivity Tales," stories of settlers kidnapped by Indians, are turned on their head in this book about captivity in the city. Stranded in New York with her family, Elizabeth Hay searches for company and finds it in the lives of other Canadians who have come to New York: Inuit visitors in th 19th century, artists like Michael Snow, Joyce Wieland, Glenn Gould and Teresa Stratas. In searching out their stories, she finds a new map, an underworld of memory and connection, which offers a way home. A fresh, engaging exploration of Canadian cultural identity, "Captivity Tales" evokes the desperate need to find yourself by losing yourself, and to return home by escaping from it.