Winner, Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction
Shortlisted, McNally Robinson Book of the Year and Relit Award (Novel)
Award-winning author Margaret Sweatman has proven herself a virtuoso writer of historical fiction. Yet nothing she has written can prepare you for Mr. Jones.
Emmett Jones is adrift. Having firebombed civilians as a pilot during World War II, Emmett searches for something to cling to when life loses focus. Post-war, he becomes compulsively drawn to John Norfield, a former POW who has found his focus in communism.
Set in a time of rampant paranoia, Mr. Jones peels back the veneer of Canadian politics to reveal a nation willing to sacrifice its own. It is a fearful time, a time of "peace" at the onset of the nuclear age.
Emmett's existence comes under scrutiny. His relationship with Norfield makes him a target of security forces. His marriage, his job, even his child are the target of investigation. And as the nuclear arms race heats up, Mr. Jones sets himself on a path that will risk the lives of everyone he holds dear.
Evoking the classic works of le Carré and Greene, Sweatman's novel is a shattering exploration of a past where world governments threaten annihilation while training housewives in the proper techniques for sweeping up radioactive dust.
Margaret Sweatman is a novelist, playwright, and lyricist. Her novels include Fox, winner of the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award, and Sam and Angie. Margaret was the winner of the inaugural John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer. She has a BA in English and History from the University of Winnipeg and a MA from Simon Fraser University. Margaret lives in Winnipeg, where she teaches literature and creative writing.
"It works as a story of identity, exile and loneliness: Emmett Jones' own identity is questioned to the point where he no longer knows who he is: husband, father, friend, civil servant, or none of the above, just an invented character in some Washington dossier. Sweatman describes what it feels like to see a face in the mirror, and the faces of family, and not recognize any of them. "
— Tom Jokinen
"Margaret Sweatman outdoes herself again in scope and skill level in Mr. Jones. "
"Mr. Jones is suspenseful, evocative, and astonishing in scope. Here is communism as it unfolds in Canada during the '50s and '60s, the repercussions of the Cold War, espionage, and the explosive co-mingling of idealism and ambition. Margaret Sweatman writes all the dangerous fires — bravery, betrayal, loyalty, and love. Prose as lyrical and transparent as Ondaatje, as politically astute and fiercely clear-eyed as Didion. This novel burns bright. "
— Lisa Moore
"With consummate skill, Margaret Sweatman brilliantly replicates the Cold War with its pervasive atmosphere of paranoia and doom while seducing the reader's empathy for her characters. Her novel may be 'historical,' but it stands as a stark warning of the ways governments continue to invade and trouble our private lives. "
— Mark Frutkin
". .. a hugely compelling tale set in the heart of McCarthyism, of a former air force pilot caught in the unflinching scope of Canadian and American governments jockeying for position during the Cold War. Mr. Jones is especially relevant today as a study on the expendability of Rights and Freedoms in the name of security. "
"Emmett Jones is a fascinating new protagonist on the Canadian literary scene. "
"Mr. Jones is an atmospheric tour-de-force. "
"It is the relationships between her cast of characters taht truly forms the arc of this story, their loyalties to one another as well as their betrayals. "
"The paranoid '50s cracked open in unlikely places. Sleek, believable — essential too, like the missing pieces in a long abandoned puzzle. "
— Fred Stenson