Reproduction is the debut novel from poet and writer Ian Williams.

Ian Williams

Felicia and Edgar meet as their mothers are dying. Felicia, a teen from an island nation, and Edgar, the lazy heir of a wealthy German family, come together only because their mothers share a hospital room. When Felicia's mother dies and Edgar's "Mutter" does not, Felicia drops out of high school and takes a job as Mutter's caregiver. While Felicia and Edgar don't quite understand each other, and Felicia recognizes that Edgar is selfish, arrogant, and often unkind, they form a bond built on grief (and proximity) that results in the birth of a son Felicia calls Armistice. Or Army, for short.

Some years later, Felicia and Army (now 14) are living in the basement of a home owned by Oliver, a divorced man of Portuguese descent who has two kids — the teenaged Heather and the odd little Hendrix. Along with Felicia and Army, they form an unconventional family, except that Army wants to sleep with Heather, and Oliver wants to kill Army. Then Army's fascination with his absent father — and his absent father's money — begins to grow as odd gifts from Edgar begin to show up. And Felicia feels Edgar's unwelcome shadow looming over them. A brutal assault, a mortal disease, a death, and a birth reshuffle this group of people again to form another version of the family. 

Reproduction is a profoundly insightful exploration of the bizarre ways people become bonded that insists that family isn't a matter of blood. (From Random House Canada)

Reproduction won the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Reproduction was also shortlisted for the 2019 Amazon Canada First Novel Award.

Williams is a poet, who has previously been shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize for his collection Personals. 

From the book

Before she died her mother was prickly. Before her mother died she was. One more time. Before her mother died she, her mother, was prickly. One more time. Before her mother died she, her mother, prickled her, Felicia. 

In the days before she died, her mother flew into unpredictable rages over the littlest things. Felicia said sardines instead of tuna when passing the tin and her mother blasted her. 

Why you working yourself up so? Felicia asked.

Because a tuna is a big fish and a sardines is a small fish. A sardines — you hear the nonsense you have me saying? 

Her hands vibrated so badly she couldn't open the tin, the can, the tin. 

From Reproduction by Ian Williams ©2019. Published by Vintage Canada.

Why Ian Williams wrote Reproduction

"It's about a number of different lives and people and the ripple effect that happens.

I wanted the book to have a soft impression of people's lives, like a thumbprint.- Ian Williams

"I wanted to write a book that would reproduce itself and I went about that a few different ways. When I'm writing poetry, I print my poems up and stick them on the wall — and I sort of wallpaper my place. When I'm writing prose, there's a bit more back and forth involved.

"I wanted the book to have a soft impression of people's lives, like a thumbprint. Edgar would always press his thumb into Felicia's forehead as a gesture. And I wanted the book just feel like pressing someone lovingly on the forehead."

Read more in his interview with CBC Books.

Interviews with Ian Williams

Ian Williams shocked, delighted by Giller win

3 years ago
Duration 0:57
Scotiabank Giller prizewinner Ian Williams says the subject of his debut novel is one all of us can relate to.
Ian Williams on his first novel, Reproduction

Other books by Ian Williams



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