Winner, Commonwealth Writers Prize, Canada and the Caribbean, Amazon. ca First Novel Award, and On the Same Page, Manitoba Reads
Shortlisted, Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book, Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction, and McNally Robinson Book of the Year
Longlisted, IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
For Lily Piper, life on the prairie is spare, austere, and tucked in. She is restless — not the daughter she feels her mother wants. When puberty hits, an abrupt shift in fate has Lily on her way to England to care for her aging grandmother. There, she experiences life in all its ambiguity, until she is called home to face a future she thought she had escaped. Thomas's prose is intimate, elegant and devastatingly funny; her engrossing story of Lily Piper tells us something about how we make sense of the future when the future is something we can hardly imagine.
Reading by Lightning, Joan Thomas's long-awaited first novel, took readers by storm. A year after its publication, it had won numerous awards, found a large readership, and been selected by popular vote for On the Same Page, Manitoba's one book reading experience. Goose Lane is pleased to reissue Reading by Lightning in this reader's guide edition, complete with an afterword, an interview with the author, extended biographical notes, and more.
Joan Thomas has been a regular book reviewer for the Globe and Mail for more than a decade. Her essays, stories, and articles have been published in numerous journals and magazines including Prairie Fire, Books in Canada, and the Winnipeg Free Press. She has won a National Magazine Award, co-edited Turn of the Story: Canadian Short Fiction on the Eve of the Millennium, and has served on the editorial boards of Turnstone Press and Prairie Fire Magazine. She lives in Winnipeg.
"We experience this writing with our noses and ears and eyes and fingertips. "
— Lisa Moore
"Breathtakingly good. "
— Nikki Gemmell
"The book is destined to be classic of Canadian Prairie Literature. With writing as fresh and as beautiful as a Prairie landscape, Joan Thomas weaves a tale of mythical proportions. "
"A compelling story burnished by spare and powerful writing. This is a fabulous novel, full of grace and delicious discovery, haunted by the flavour of memory and the prairies in World War II. "
"Like the man in the whirlwind, the reader of this fine novel is snatched away, deposited in a different place — and profoundly changed by the experience. "
"In fresh, exhilarating, masterful prose, Joan Thomas's novel explores the question of belonging. The wit, the wisdom and the quality and generosity of psychological insight make Reading by Lightning the unanimous selection of the judges. "
"A stunning prairie novel. .. The dialogue between characters blends emotions and words in an alchemy of tension. .. If Joan Thomas is an unknown name to you, that's about to change. "
"Joan Thomas's writing is so precise, so surprising, that on any given page you might stop, only to read the words again slowly. "
— Kristen Den Hartog
"Thomas writes like an angel. .. Her prose is carefully considered, troubled, alert to the texture of experience. .. singular, thoughtful writing that makes the world seem strange. "
"Lily Piper's search for home — a place where life can be at once familiar and momentous — is utterly absorbing, told with consummate grace. "
— Beth Powning
"Thomas's finely nuanced sensibility variously evokes Austen, Alice Munro, and Richard B. Wright. Most first-time novelists strain for the gold ring; Joan Thomas grabs it effortlessly in this wonderful book. "
"Thomas's novel is a beautifully described and carefully detailed intersection of competing landscapes. . .. Precise, complex, and elegant, Reading by Lightning flashes with wit and insight and illuminates our understanding of what it means to be a sojourner in all the familiar places. "