Set in Ottawa during the Mulroney years, Asylum is André Alexis's sweeping, edged-in-satire, yet deeply serious tale of intertwined lives and fortunes, of politics and vain ambition, of the building of a magnificent prison, of human fallibility, of the search for refuge, of the impossibility of love, and of finding home. Whether he is taking us into the machinations of a government office or into the mysterious workings of the human heart, Alexis is always alert to the humour and the profound truth of any situation. His cast of characters is eccentric and unforgettable, all recognizable in one way or another as aspects of ourselves or people we know well. At the centre of the story, which covers almost a decade, is a visionary project to build an ideal prison, a perfect metaphor for the purest aspects of artistic ambition and for all that is great and flawed in the world.
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André Alexis is a true original, one of the most talented and astute writers writing in Canada today. This dazzling novel is filled with tragedy, dry wit, intellectual grist. It is playful, linguistically accomplished, and psychologically profound. Its yearnings constitute the highest level of human concerns and pursuits. Alexis has written The Great Canadian Novel, with a twist. (From Emblem Editions)
Little had changed and yet everything had changed. On this, the anniversary of his attempted suicide, Walter Barnes sat in one of the two chairs he now owned, reading one of his two books. Of the two, a Bible and the Arden King Lear, he had chosen the Bible, not for any consciously spiritual reason but rather because he found it beautiful and amusing, in particular the Pentateuch, of which he was reading Leviticus.He was not aware that a year had passed since he'd first tried to kill himself. If he had been, he would not have known whether to rejoice or mourn; though, in any case, he might well have chosen to mark the event in this way: reading, at home.
From Asylum by André Alexis ©2009. Published by Emblem Editions.