The Woman Inside

In Barbara Gowdy’s new novel, an unusual haunting sparks a deep reflection on motherhood, family, identity

In the late 1990s when I first arrived in Toronto, I shared an apartment with Mariko Tamaki, who was, like me, an emerging writer. We passed the books Falling Angels and We So Seldom Look on Love back and forth, asking each other the questions, How does she do it? How does she think of these things? It was a time in my life, my early twenties, when I held tight to many possibly immature, and definitely misguided, beliefs about Canadian literature—that it was all terribly boring, that the only truly innovative work was coming out of the East Village in New York City or the Mission in San Francisco, or Montreal 20 years earlier. But Barbara Gowdy was an exception, stacked alongside Kathy Acker, David Wojnarowicz and Eileen Myles on our cheap IKEA shelves. Her prose was sparse and muscular and she wrote about things that were totally strange. But you did not have to go to This Ain’t the Rosedale...