Books·Canadian

My Volcano

John Elizabeth Stintzi's new fiction novel sets the mythic and absurd against the starkly realistic, attempting to portray what it feels like to live in a burning world stricken numb.

John Elizabeth Stintzi

On the morning of June 2, 2016, a jogger in Central Park notices a mass of stone in the centre of the reservoir, a mass that - three weeks later - will have grown into an active stratovolcano nearly two and a half miles tall. This inexplicable event seems to coincide with an escalation of strange phenomena happening around the world.

My Volcano is a pre-apocalyptic vision following a global and diverse cast of characters, each experiencing private and collective eruptions: an 8-year-old boy in Mexico City finds himself 500 years in the past, where he lives through the fall of the Aztec Empire; a folktale scholar in Tokyo studies a story with indeterminate origins about a woman coming down a mountain to destroy villages and towns; a white trans writer living in Jersey City struggles to write a sci-fi novel about a thriving civilization on an impossible planet; a nurse with Doctors without Borders works with Syrian refugees in Greece as she tries to grapple with the trauma of surviving an American bombing of a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan; a nomadic herder in Mongolia is stung by a bee and finds himself transformed into a green, thorned, flowering creature that aims to cleanse the world's most polluted places on its path toward assimilating every living thing on Earth into its consciousness.

With audacious structure and poetic prose, My Volcano is an electrifying tapestry on fire. (From Arsenal Pulp Press)

John Elizabeth Stintzi is a writer from northwestern Ontario, currently based in Kansas City, Mo. Their work Selections From Junebat won the 2019 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers and the Malahat Review's 2019 Long Poem Prize. The complete poetry collection, Junebatwas published in spring 2020. Their other works include the novel Vanishing Monuments, which was a finalist for the 2021 Amazon Canada First Novel Award. CBC Books named Stintzi a 2020 writer to watch.

From the book

Waking up on the street, that midafternoon on JUNE 2, Jahan Mokri thought he was dreaming. He woke up and stumbled into the talk, the talk of something rising from Central Park. He was near the East Village and went down into the subway, jumped the turnstiles to climb onto the train that ran uptown to the park. The attendant in the booth yelled emptily to him, knowing he was paid enough to be outraged but not to take action. He didn't want to think of Jahan as a human being; otherwise, he might have chased him down.

Jahan sardined his way uptown and surfaced near the Met to try and walk into the park. It was bustling with life, but he pushed his way toward the reservoir. The crowd gave in to his pressures. Police were trying to keep the huge swell of people out of the park, but the bodies had no better place to be, to force themselves, and so the cries of the police were largely ignored.There was nothing they could do. Eventually, Jahan made it to the tall metal fence and could see it, the short jut coming out of the water.


From My Volcano by John Elizabeth Stintzi ©2022. Published by Arsenal Pulp Press.

Interviews with John Elizabeth Stintzi

John Elizabeth Stintzi talks about their novel Vanishing Monuments, which follows a photographer's return to their mother's home in Winnipeg after a 27-year absence.

Other books by John Elizabeth Stintzi

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