ALU Summer Book Club: Intro to Anomia

This summer’s book club kicks off with an innovative and skilful twist on a traditional murder-mystery. Jade Wallace’s Anomia is an atmospheric novel set in a small, fictional town where a couple has vanished from their home, and the only person to have noticed is an estranged friend.

Today we chat with the publisher of Palimpsest Press, Aimee Parent Dunn, about the book: “A world where sex and gender have been forgotten, where friendship and mystery collide in a small town filled with interesting characters, a magical forest, and perhaps something more sinister lingering underneath.”


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Book club with us and get 15% off Anomia until August 31 with the discount code INTHECLUB2024

July's Pick: Anomia. Featuring the cover of the book and a pull quote from Aaron Tucker: "Anomia is the sum of its many multiple parts, a whirling, delightful strange weaving of friendships, suspicion, and small town conspiracy.”

Writer and poet Jade Wallace has pulled off an impressive feat in Anomia: it’s a novel without any gendered pronouns. Indeed, in Euphoria, the small, rural community that serves as the setting of Wallace’s novel, characters bear names like Fir or Mal – and we focus instead on their personalities, and the way they carry themselves in town and with their neighbours. But Anomia is more than the skillful execution of a writerly challenge: it’s a beautiful, heart-rending novel about love, friendship, and loneliness, with a little bit of mystery in the mix.

Buy your own copy here on All Lit Up for 15% off (or find a copy from your local indie using our Shop Local finder).

Read on for our interview with Publisher Aimee Parent Dunn.

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Interview with Publisher Aimee Parent Dunn

All Lit Up: Anomia is Jade Wallace’s first book with Palimpsest Press. What drew you to their work? What made Anomia a must-publish for the press?

Aimee Parent Dunn: Jade is a local Windsor writer and very well-known in the Windsor/Essex literary scene. We had met them at multiple events in recent years and knew they published poetry, but we were quite surprised to discover they also wrote fiction! Part of our mandate as a regional press is to publish local writers where possible, so we were excited to check out this novel and see if it fit in with our other titles. And we were happy to see that it did, with its whimsical cast of characters, its magic realism, and its clever and innovative twist on the traditional murder-mystery genre.

ALU: The early reviews of the book have been exceptional. Without spoilers, what can readers look forward to in the story?

APD: Readers can look forward to being swept into a world that seems so familiar, yet isn’t. A world where sex and gender have been forgotten, where friendship and mystery collide in a small town filled with interesting characters, a magical forest, and perhaps something more sinister lingering underneath. We believe Anomia to be an unprecedented first in the English language, a novel written entirely without the use of gendered pronouns. Anomia will challenge the reader to dismiss assumptions about what they know and what they think they know!

ALU: The cover by Mark Laliberte is so striking. How did you arrive at this design? 

APD: The cover design is extremely special as it was conceived and created with so much thought and deliberation behind each element. The title is sideways and mirrored as to not be immediately legible. When you turn the book sideways to read the title, the text creates a kind of horizon line, the pink and blue looking like the tones of a lake and sunset. And lastly, the blue/pink colour scheme is a deliberate, cheeky nod to gender norms. The two versions of the title, one mostly in pink, one mostly in blue, both reference and subvert the binary because the colours of the Os are reversed. The addition of the black is suggestive of a void, of forgetting, of inscrutability, common threads throughout the novel.

ALU: Can you talk to us about the editorial process? How did the book come together?

APD: Jade’s book was a gem to edit, as it had been already scrupulously edited by multiple people beforehand. As a poet, Jade is very attuned to the nuances of language and had a very distinct vision of how the book should read. So it was a fairly simple edit looking for consistency and clarity.

ALU: Did anything surprising happen on the way to publication?

APD: No real surprises, other than perhaps the artwork on the inside cover. I didn’t know the designer had this idea in mind and was quite surprised when I saw the final vision come to life. But no spoilers, you’ll have to check out the book to see what I mean.

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Thanks to Aimee for answering our questions! Get Anomia here on All Lit Up for 15% off (discount code INTHECLUB2024), all summer long.

Keep on top of all summer book club happenings here.