Books·Canadian

The Wagers

A novel by Sean Michaels.

Sean Michaels

Theo Potiris is a grocer and a comedian who never repeats his jokes. After 15 years of open mikes, he's still waiting for his break — bicycling to the comedy club at night, stacking plums at his family's grand and ramshackle supermarket by day. His girlfriend is halfway around the world, searching for enlightenment with a patron who happens to be the richest man on Earth, and when two other loved-ones get struck by bolts from the blue, Theo decides he can't keep chasing his old dreams any longer. He resolves to trade his wishes in, pursuing a bigger score.

Here Sean Michaels' novel takes a surprise left turn, away from the price of milk and into a shabby, beautiful, imaginary Montreal where peacocks strut on street corners and gamblers bet on sunny days. Theo uncovers a mysterious association of sports-obsessed mathematicians, The Rabbit's Foot, which is turning probability into riches, and the vigilante No Name Gang, who steal luck from those who have taken more than their fair share. Bursting with sheer story-telling pleasure and stylish prose, The Wagers carries you along on wave after wave of invention--a literary motorcycle chase that soon has you wondering about the randomness of good fortune and all the ways we choose to wage our lives. (From Random House Canada)

Sean Michaels's first novel, Us Conductors, won the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

From the book

Nobody remembered Theo Potiris's first joke. Theo himself didn't remember. He'd scribbled his setlist on the back of an electricity bill, folded it in fourths, lost it. What he could imagine was a room, a stage, a microphone. Loud spotlights, crummy comics, tired portraits on the Knock Knock Club's wall. He recalled the way the darkness crowded around the tables, made it seem safe to laugh. Another first-timer had brought his mother and Theo couldln't take his eyes off them: the mope in shorts and T-shirt; the mom in black blazer, skirt, her long hands wringing an undrunk daiquiri. The son had yet to go up but the mother already sensed the way this would go. The boy's smile was like a scrap of egg. He was not funny, couldn't be, any more than a cocker spaniel can paint a still life with his paw.


From The Wagers by Sean Michaels ©2019. Published by Random House Canada.

Interviews with Sean Michaels

Shelagh Rogers talks to Sean Michaels about his latest novel, The Wagers. 14:49
Giller Prize: Music that inspires Sean Michaels 1:12

Other books by Sean Michaels

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