A Song for Nettie Johnson
by Gloria Sawai
In her stunning, Governor-General's-Award-winning debut collection of short stories, Gloria Sawai examines the heartbreaking lives of people on the margins.
In her stunning debut collection of short stories, Gloria Sawai examines the heartbreaking lives of people on the margins.
A group of young school students prepares a memorial for the town's deceased doctor, at the inadvertent risk of deeply offending his widow. A young girl learns important things about herself - some of them extremely unpleasant - on a storm-ravaged Mother's Day weekend. A woman on a road trip in search of her erstwhile husband finds instead the one thing she never expected to see again in her lifetime. A woman sitting on the deck outside her Moose Jaw home receives an unusual and unexpected gentleman caller. And, in the title story, an outcast and misunderstood woman and her disgraced lover struggle toward what may be their last chance at redemption.
These and other vividly drawn characters populate the stories collected for the first time in A Song for Nettie Johnson. With insight and passion, Sawai throws light into dark corners and reveals dark truths.
Some stories are linked by common characters and settings; others are worlds unto themselves. But all are told in a rich yet spare style that imbues them with understated foreboding and unease. As Sawai deftly turns over the stones of these people's lives and finds the squalor, fear and unhappiness that lie beneath, she also uncovers that most precious of gems: hope. Hope that things will not always remain the way they are. The realization remains, however, that there's a lot more to changing things than simply wanting them to change.