Canada Reads·Canadian

Minister Without Portfolio

Michael Winter's novel about a man struggling to build a home was a finalist on Canada Reads 2016.

Michael Winter

Henry Hayward is a drowning man. With a soured long-term romance finally at an end, no family, and no refuge to be had in work, his days are progressively spent in the solace of alcohol. In a quest to simultaneously recover from unrequited love and to find meaning in what is becoming an increasingly emotionally arid life, Henry travels to Afghanistan as an army-affiliated contractor.

Henry becomes embedded in the regiment with which his friends and fellow Newfoundlanders are serving. He doesn't have time to think about his fixation on Nora or the fragments of his old life. But everything changes during a tragic roadside incursion. And Henry, who survives, knows in his heart that he is responsible.

Upon his return home, now tormented by guilt, Henry begins to feel even more rootless than before until the question of his deceased friend's old family summer home arises. Matters are complicated by the grief of Martha, his deceased friend's long-term girlfriend, with whom Henry once had an affair.

In an unconventional twist of events, Henry attempts to bring meaning back into his life and make posthumous amends by planning to buy and repair the house. But he hasn't factored family history into the picture — and Martha has a revelation of her own, which may change everything. (From Hamish Hamilton Canada)

Minister Without Portfolio by Michael Winter was defended by Adam Copeland on Canada Reads 2016.

Read an excerpt | Author interviews | More about this book

From the book

We live individual lives with the consciousness of death and awareness of the past. But the most important part of that sentence is the individual part. Let yourself be humbled by the experiences people have been having for thousands of years. And speak of it.

From Minister Without Portfolio by Michael Winter ©2013. Published by Hamish Hamilton Canada.

Author interviews

Michael Winter talks about his 2013 novel, which is a contender for this year's Canada Reads.

Canada Reads 2016 authors dissect their first sentences

7 years ago
Duration 3:33
The authors in this year's competition — Anita Rau Badami, Lawrence Hill, Tracey Lindberg, Saleema Nawaz and Michael Winter — read their books' crucial first sentences

More about this book