Books·Canadian

Vanishing Monuments

Vanishing Monuments is a book by John Elizabeth Stintzi.

John Elizabeth Stintzi

(Arsenal Pulp Press)

Alani Baum, a non-binary photographer and teacher, hasn't seen their mother since they ran away with their girlfriend when they were 17, almost 30 years ago. But when Alani gets a call from a doctor at the assisted living facility where their mother has been for the last five years, they learn that their mother's dementia has worsened and appears to have taken away her ability to speak. As a result, Alani suddenly find themselves running away again, only this time, they're running back to their mother.

Staying at their mother's empty home, Alani attempts to tie up the loose ends of their mother's life while grappling with the painful memories that — in the face of their mother's disease — they're terrified to lose. Meanwhile, the memories inhabiting the house slowly grow animate, and the longer Alani is there, the longer they're forced to confront the fact that any closure they hope to get from this homecoming will have to be manufactured.

This beautiful, tenderly written debut novel by Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers winner John Elizabeth Stintzi explores what haunts us most, bearing witness to grief over not only what is lost, but also what remains. (From Arsenal Pulp Press)

Vanishing Monuments is a finalist for the 2021 Amazon Canada First Novel Award.

Stinzi is a novelist, poet, teacher and visual artist. They won the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for emerging writers for their work Selections From Junebat. CBC Books named them a writer to watch in 2020.

Why John Elizabeth Stintzi wrote Vanishing Monuments

"I started writing Vanishing Monuments before I had an idea of my identity in terms of queerness and gender. I had, previously, lightly identified as genderqueer, but without really unpacking or understanding what that could mean. I was growing in fascination and interest with gender and the reality of these sort of non-normative gender identities. 

I was growing in fascination and interest with gender and the reality of these sort of non-normative gender identities.- John Elizabeth Stintzi

"In writing the book, I wrote a nonbinary genderqueer character as something that I assumed was different, outside of myself and interesting to write thematically.

"But as I was writing and rewriting the book — and as I was researching and reading more trans literature —  the distance between the main character and me got smaller and smaller. I started to identify with them more than I thought I was going into it." 

Read more in their interview with CBC Books.

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. 10:50

Other books by John Elizabeth Stintzi

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