Man Descending

Guy Vanderhaeghe's novel won the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction in 1982.

Guy Vanderhaeghe

These superbly crafted stories reveal an astonishing range, with settings that vary from a farm on the Canadian prairies to Bloomsbury in London, from a high-rise apartment to a mine-shaft. Vanderhaeghe has the uncanny ability to show us the world through the eyes of an 11 year-old boy as convincingly as he reveals it through the eyes of an old man approaching senility. Moving from the hilarious farce of teenage romance all the way to the numbing tragedy of life in a ward for incurables, these 12 stories inspire belief, admiration, and enjoyment, and come together to form a vibrant chronicle of human experience from a gifted observer of life's joys and tribulations. This is Guy Vanderhaeghe's brilliant first book of fiction. (From New Canadian Library)

Man Descending won the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction in 1982.

Read an excerpt | Author interviews

From the book

I suppose it was having a bad chest that turned me into an observer, a watcher, at an early age.

"Charlie has my chest," my mother often informed friends. "A real weakness there," she would add significantly, thumping her own wishbone soundly.

I suppose I had. Family lore had me narrowly escaping death from pneumonia at the age of four. It seems I spent an entire Sunday in delirium, soaking the sheets. Dr. Carlyle was off at the reservoir rowing in his little skiff and ­couldn't be reached — something for which my mother illogically refused to forgive him. She was a woman who nursed and tenaciously held dark grudges. Forever after that incident the doctor was slightingly and coldly dismissed in conversation as a "man who betrayed the public's trust."

From Man Descending by Guy Vanderhaeghe ©2005. Published by New Canadian Library.

Author interviews

RAW: Guy Vanderhaeghe on being an observer

9 years ago
Duration 0:51
Featured VideoAuthor Guy Vanderhaeghe talks with Saskatoon Morning host Leisha Grebinski about the importance of fiction writers being people watchers.
Featured VideoTonight in Calgary the Walrus Talks tackle the questions "What is art anyway?" Eight artists, from various disciplines and backgrounds, are exploring the subject. Guy Vanderhaeghe is among them. He's a three-time Governor General's Award-winning author.
Featured VideoMichael's conversation with the award-winning novelist about "Daddy Lenin" - his first collection of short stories in 23 years.