Florence, Dante and Me

In the early 1960s, when all things European were hip, a UBC student went to Italy for a year to study Dante. His letters home are the subject of a new book. Review by Beverly Cramp. FULL STORY

Rhythm & bruise

September 08th, 2017

The rise of Vancouver-born Eliza Robertson has been meteoric.

In 2013, Robertson accepted the Commonwealth Short Story Prize from John le Carré at the Hay Festival in Wales for her story, ‘She Walked On Water,’ which appeared in Granta.

Her first story collection, Wallflowers (Hamish Hamilton 2014), was shortlisted for the East Anglia Book Award and selected as a New York Times Editor’s Choice. The New York Times dubbed her work “captivating” and she was a finalist for the CBC Short Story Prize and Journey Prize. As a debut author, she was invited to Writers Festivals and much interviewed. In 2015, she was named one of five emerging writers for the Writers’ Trust Five x Five program.

So the pump is well primed for her debut novel, Demi-Gods (Hamish Hamilton $29.95, co-released by Bloomsbury), hyped as daring, alluring and gut-wrenching. “It is 1950, and Willa’s mother has a new beau. The arrival of his blue-eyed, sun-kissed sons at Willa’s summer home signals the end of her safe childhood. As her entrancing older sister Joan pairs off with Kenneth, nine-year-old Willa is drawn to his strange and solitary younger brother, Patrick.” We follow the latter relationship between step-sister and step-brother into an adult landscape of sexually charged malevolence.

Not to be confused with Lisa Robertson, Eliza Robertson attended the University of Victoria and the University of East Anglia, where she received the 2011 Man Booker Scholarship and the Curtis Brown Prize for best writer. Her self-described unofficial biography states, “I’m a writer / teacher / astrologer-in-training. My Ph.D is in rhythm. My sun is in Sagittarius. I also dance.”

978-0670068272

Author photo by Ellie Gillard

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