26 Knots

By (author): Bindu Suresh

A CBC Best Book of 2019

A crackling debut, 26 Knots starts with a fire and never stops smouldering.

Grand in scope, spare in execution, and lush in language, 26 Knots is a fable-like tale of love, obsession, and everything in between. Araceli loves Adrien. Adrien loves Pénélope. Pénélope marries Gabriel, who is tormented by the search for the father he never knew. Set in Montreal, but spiralling out across Canada, Bindu Suresh’s debut novel deftly reveals the devastating consequences of betrayal and commitment, of grief and hope.

“Such a good read. Fast. And rich and dark and passionate. SO MANY FEELS.”—Jael Richardson, CBC Radio’s Q Book Columnist

“One of the most striking Canadian literary debuts of the year.”Montreal Gazette


Bindu Suresh

A former journalist and current paediatrician, Bindu Suresh is the author of short stories that have appeared in various literary publications. She studied literature at Columbia University and medicine at McGill University. Born in Wales, she grew up in Canada and has spent equal parts of her life in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec. She currently lives in Montreal.


“A collection of connected tales set in Montreal, Canada, Bindu Suresh’s 26 Knots is a buzzy, new novel-in-stories that you won’t want to miss out on reading.”Bustle

“Such a good read. Fast. And rich and dark and passionate. SO MANY FEELS.”—Jael Richardson, CBC Radio’s Q Book Columnist

“One of the most striking Canadian literary debuts of the year.”Montreal Gazette

“[26 Knots] deliberately shuns prosaic narrative storytelling for a more poetic, episodic style… Suresh’s focus on her characters’ realistic fixations, loaded choices, impulsive actions, and inner turmoil relentlessly draws the reader into the stories.”Canadian Literature

“To call this novel a page-turner is an understatement… Suresh’s prose is sumptuous and lyrical.”Montreal Review of Books

“Shakespearean in its execution, 26 Knots leaves you feeling the echoes of heartbreak and loneliness, long after you finish the last page.”THIS Magazine

“A propulsive, taut and sultry debut, 26 Knots is a lightspeed Romeo and Juliet, a billet doux to Montreal. Bindu Suresh writes with the shine and force of a guillotine carrying us swiftly through the entanglements of love.”—Claudia Dey, author of Heartbreaker


  • CBC Best Book (Fiction) 2019, Commended
  • Excerpts & Samples ×


    Years later, he would reach out for her hand as she walked, oblivious, past where he was standing on the train paused at Lionel-Groulx. By then she will have drawn the nectar from every memory, dried the fallen petals with constant thought—the slightly ridiculous sway of his hips to jazz, the kisses in her creased palms as they made love, his crescent body arched around hers in the morning moonlight.

    But then, on that warm June afternoon, that life was just beginning—Araceli and Adrien were simply two young journalists, their future before them like a field of long, swaying grass.

    “This is my first fire,” she had said, opening the slim spiral notebook to a blank page as they watched charred fragments of building chip from the facade, covering the ground before them like a slow and purposeful rain.

    Adrien stood over his kitchen counter with a screwdriver, cracking open thick-shelled oysters and placing them in a glass bowl. Sébastien, a friend of Adrien’s from the Gaspé who was staying with him for the summer, stood next to him, his leg outstretched to keep Adrien’s black cat from jumping up onto the counter.

    Araceli was looking at a photograph on the fridge. It had been cut in half, on an angle; it showed Adrien, his back against the ocean, his hair wet and tucked behind his ears. His right arm had been cut off at the shoulder, a perfect scissor-line caressing his cheek.

    “I’d been at TVA for a year when the CBC called and offered me a job,” Adrien said, his lips pursed as square fragments of shell fell into the sink. He gave a sheepish shrug. “So I said, well, yes, it’s the CBC, so.”

    “So, you said yes,” Araceli said, touching the edge of the photograph. “Is this the Gaspé?”

    “It is,” Adrien said. He paused, turning away slightly to wipe his wet hands on a dishtowel. “But come, I have better pictures.”

    In the living room he pulled out an album with dark blue covers. He put his arm around Araceli’s waist as she flipped past seascapes, a picture of Adrien’s sister against the Atlantic with a child in each arm. He placed his hand, shyly, on her leg.

    “What do you think, Sébastien,” he said, calling out toward the kitchen. “Isn’t the Gaspé the most beautiful place in the world?”

    He pressed his lips gently against her neck.

    “Chez nous.”

    That night Adrien and Araceli made love for three hours. On the balcony under the moon and the swaying trees, in the humid summer air—her hands above her head and her fingers laced through his—he would stop to kiss her, still inside her.

    Inside the bedroom, warm, his blond body curved around hers and their legs interwoven, because drying each other’s skin with the rough purple towels had ended with her pushed against the tiled wall, his mouth on her throat, Araceli said, “I want to get to know you better.”

    Adrien laughed. Araceli nestled into his vocal cords as they rumbled against her forehead.

    “What do you want to know?”

    “I don’t know,” she said lightly, but thought: What did your face look like before? And the other day, when you were out on the stairs—were you crying? How do you behave around the people you do not love?

    Adrien sat up and pulled Araceli onto his lap, folding his arms underneath her chest.

    “It’s just that we’re so sex-centric. If we’re left alone for five seconds we end up making love, wherever we are.”

    “That’s what couples do when they’re falling for each other,” he said, kissing her on the cheek. “We have all summer to get to know each other.”

    Later that week, Araceli saw Adrien at a church in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. They smiled at each other; they delighted in leaving his apartment each morning and not knowing if they would be thrown together again, sent to cover the same story at the same time.

    The vestibule of the church was filled with long tables. Araceli crossed the room to meet Adrien; he stepped away from his cameraman. Looking at the family of refugees crowded at the table’s end, he said, “That family from Bogotá. They’ve been here for a month and they’re as attached to Montreal as if they’d been born here.”

    After the press conference, the three rejected refugees stood to one side, in the nave of the church, refusing to leave and void their claim to religious sanctuary. Araceli approached the mother, and then the daughter, neither of whom yet spoke much English or French; and, after she’d shared what she could remember of her time as a child in South America in their common language, they told her about the razors, the slashed arms, the skin wrapped in bloody newspaper. The woman called her husband over to show Araceli his scars.

    Adrien sat next to her on the church’s stone steps, his back against the pediment of a statue. This time he said, “I feel alone in Montreal. I feel like I don’t belong here.” He said the words evenly, as if by doing so he could reduce their weight.

    Araceli smiled. She, who had moved from Argentina at the age of seven, who fell into a comfortable stride everywhere, who had watched her parents look at each other in wonderment, snapping their fingers, at the loss of simple words like mesa and cuchara.

    To feel so lost after a move of only a few hundred kilometres: this was the sense of home, of having one’s feet take root, that endeared Adrien to Araceli.

    Reader Reviews



    152 Pages
    8.0in * 5.0in * 0.4in


    May 01, 2019



    Book Subjects:

    FICTION / Romance / Contemporary

    Featured In:

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