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From the archives

Our Violent National Game

The great hockey debate continues

Pax Atlantica

NATO’s long-lasting relevance

Katherine Ashenburg

Katherine Ashenburg is a novelist in Toronto and the author of The Mourner’s Dance: What We Do When People Die.

Articles by
Katherine Ashenburg

That Inscrutable Thing

Taking on the big one April 2024
When I was an undergraduate English major, my fiancé was scandalized that I had never read Moby-Dick. But it was American, I explained, and I was devoting myself to British authors. He responded, sensibly, that that was beside the point, so I produced another reason, which became a family joke: “Besides, I don’t read animal stories.” (Honesty compels me to confess that at age…

Ken and Company

Fast times at Etobicoke Collegiate November 2023
Their names were suggestive of their time and place. Those of the twenty-one girls tilted more to traditional choices, including three Margarets, three Joans, and two Kathys. Some of the fourteen boys had modern, saintless names — Daryl, Murray, Wayne — while Gord and Bruce were established Scottish Canadian favourites. Officially, based on a test and their standing in grade…

How We Said Goodbye

Remembering the writer Anne Kingston April 2023
So, you’ve lost the person you loved, but you’ve also lost the way to send them on. You lost the farewell. — Angela Sumegi When twenty-one-year-old Revere Osler died at the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917, all his parents could do was bring flowers to his bedroom. His father, the great Canadian clinician Sir William…

Student Body

The latest from Ariane Lessard March 2023
What is it about girls’ boarding schools, at least as seen in novels? In Antonia White’s Frost in May, the students’ spirits at the aptly named Convent of the Five Wounds are stifled by arbitrary power and everyday cruelties. But at least no one is murdered, which is what happens at Bath Ladies…

The Quality of Her Passion

Kim Echlin’s stirring narratives November 2021
Ibegin with an embarrassing confession. Until this spring, I knew of Kim Echlin as a well-regarded author, but I had never read her. I thought of her as a writer not afraid of difficult topics, whose novels ventured to some of the world’s most troubled places. As for myself (and this is the embarrassing part), when confronted with stories of Bosnia or…

Lonely Hearts Club

Settling in with Helen Humphreys December 2020
Picture yourself finding a novel somewhere with its cover torn off and no identifying marks. It is slim, told in the present tense and in the first person, and beautifully written. The protagonist is solitary, with a longing for love that is rarely satisfied. At the same time, nature provides a powerful solace, as does the protagonist’s…

Lesson Plans

Adventures in rhyme with a boy of nine October 2020
When my older daughter announced in the spring that I would be “doing English” remotely with my grandchildren every weekday, I thought she was joking. It wasn’t that I minimized her problem: schools had closed in the U.K. at the end of March, and she and her husband had to work from home in a London apartment they share with their three…

Fresh Prince

Steven Price’s novel take on a classic December 2019
Let me put my cards on the table: The Leopard, by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, is one of my all-time favourite books. Years ago, I read The Last Leopard, David Gilmour’s biography of Lampedusa, and the details of his uneventful life remain vivid in my memory. Now comes Steven Price’s new…

Amid the Alien Corn

Desperate, heroic characters make John Vaillant’s first novel a thrilling ride April 2015
The author of two much-prized non-fiction books, The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed and The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival, John Vaillant writes his first work of fiction with assurance and savoir-faire. He has not picked an easy subject or form. The Jaguar’s Children is set in contemporary…

The Girl with Three Fathers

The vulnerability of the young is the subject of Tom Rachman's second novel July–August 2014
In 2011, when this novel opens, 30–something Tooly Zylberberg owns an unsuccessful bookshop in a small town in Wales. The second chapter takes us back to 1999, when a younger Tooly is trying to walk every street in the five boroughs of New York City. In the third chapter, it is 1988 and nine-year-old Tooly is leaving Australia with a man named…