Avalanche

By (author): Jessica Westhead

“Things used to be easier, but even in those carefree days, the rules were in place for a reason. And that reason is: so we can all agree. So we can all have the same standard applied across the board. So there is no special treatment, which no one should receive. This is why we need the rules.”

The stories in Avalanche combine humour with an earnest examination and indictment of white entitlement, guilt, shame, and disorientation in the wake of waking up to the reality of racism. Focusing on the perspective of white, cis, straight, and mostly middle-aged and middle-class characters, this collection shines a light on the obliviousness of white privilege, the violence of polite, quiet racism hiding just under the surface of mundane, everyday situations, and the anguished flailing of “well-intentioned white ladies” desperate to confirm their essential goodness at all costs. Westhead writes with compassion and empathy for both her frustrating and frustrated white protagonists and the racialized characters who encounter them, and uses humour not to comfortably distance white readers from the harmful behaviour of her self-absorbed protagonists, but to pull them in close to recognize—and reckon with—those familiar parts of themselves, and to become more aware of the insidious systems of white supremacy at work behind the scenes.

AUTHOR

Jessica Westhead

Jessica Westhead is the author of the novels Pulpy & Midge (Coach House Books) and Worry (HarperCollins Canada), and the critically acclaimed short story collections And Also Sharks and Things Not to Do (Cormorant Books). And Also Sharks was a Globe & Mail Top 100 Book, one of Kobo’s Best Ebooks of 2011, and a finalist for the Danuta Gleed Short Fiction Prize, and Worry was included on CBC Books’ Best Canadian Fiction of 2019 and the CBC Canada Reads Longlist. Jessica lives in Toronto with her family.​


Reviews

Advanced praise for Avalanche:

Avalanche is a thought-provoking exploration of whiteness, identity, and relationship. A must-read for anyone seeking to better understand the role white people play in perpetuating systemic racism in the everyday, and how this awareness can help us work towards real change.”—Carrianne Leung, author of That Time I Loved You

Avalanche floored me. Droll and heartbreaking, these gorgeous stories are filled with hapless white people who struggle to be socially appropriate and fail in spectacular, often hilarious ways. Jessica Westhead has always been a brilliant stylist; with Avalanche she displays a thrilling aptitude for high-stakes humour.”—Greg Kearney, author of The Desperates


– Review quotes

Praise for Jessica Westhead:

“Westhead’s writing is infused with a generosity that is infectious: It draws a reader in and demands an emotional accounting.”—Steven W. Beattie, The Globe & Mail

“Westhead brings empathy and humour to everyday absurdities with believable and recognizable characters.”—Elizabeth Mitchell, Toronto Star

“Jessica Westhead is one of the finest prose writers in this country.”—Zoe Whittall, bestselling author of The Best Kind of People

“…unsettling, endearing, funny, sad, surprising and all else. In short, it’s stunning short fiction.”—Mike Landry, Telegraph-Journal

“The narrative tone of voice is deftly comic…but the settings and situations are emphatic about the gnawing difference between one’s high expectations for life and what actually comes to be.”—Brett Josef Grubisic, Vancouver Sun

“Each story presents itself with a dilemma to the reader: Will I empathize, look past the human error? Or will I shake my head and become a judge of character? This duality is made even more difficult—but entertaining—by Westhead’s humour, which leaves the reader unsure whether to laugh the story off or feel a sense of shame for laughing at all.” —Erica Lenti, The Winnipeg Review

“In Worry, Jessica Westhead deftly plumbs the anxiety that can arise from attachment. This compelling novel explores not only the tensions between dependence and freedom, but also the tricky, shifting nature of love itself.”—Meg Wolitzer, bestselling author of The Interestings


Awards

There are no awards found for this book.
Excerpts & Samples ×

“Things used to be easier, but even in those carefree days, the rules were in place for a reason. And that reason is: so we can all agree. So we can all have the same standard applied across the board. So there is no special treatment, which no one should receive. This is why we need the rules.”

The stories in Avalanche combine humour with an earnest examination and indictment of white entitlement, guilt, shame, and disorientation in the wake of waking up to the reality of racism. Focusing on the perspective of white, cis, straight, and mostly middle-aged and middle-class characters, this collection shines a light on the obliviousness of white privilege, the violence of polite, quiet racism hiding just under the surface of mundane, everyday situations, and the anguished flailing of “well-intentioned white ladies” desperate to confirm their essential goodness at all costs. Westhead writes with compassion and empathy for both her frustrating and frustrated white protagonists and the racialized characters who encounter them, and uses humour not to comfortably distance white readers from the harmful behaviour of her self-absorbed protagonists, but to pull them in close to recognize—and reckon with—those familiar parts of themselves, and to become more aware of the insidious systems of white supremacy at work behind the scenes.

Reader Reviews

Details

Dimensions:

160 Pages
8in * 5in

Published:

September 26, 2023

ISBN:

9781778430268

Book Subjects:

FICTION / Short Stories

Featured In:

All Books

Language:

eng

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