If You Liked X, Read Y: Meg Todd’s Exit Strategies
If you enjoyed Souvankham Thammavongsa’s Giller Prize winning debut novel How to Pronounce Knife, make your next read Meg Todd’s Exit Strategies (Signature Editions)—full of a similar tenderness, compassion and sensitivity that gives voice to the often overlooked experiences of immigrants and refugees.
Souvankham Thammavongsa’s debut book of fiction, How to Pronounce Knife, quickly wowed both readers and critics alike. Winning numerous awards — including the Giller Prize in 2020—named one of Time’s Must-Read Books of 2020, and dubbed the “Book of the Year” by the Globe and Mail, CBC Books, Now Magazine, Quill and Quire, and 49th Shelf, it was clear that Thammavongsa is an essential voice in Canadian literature.Thammavongsa vividly captures the day-to-day lives of immigrants and refugees and illuminates their hopes, disappointments, love affairs, acts of defiance — and, above all, their pursuit of a place to belong. With compassion and wry humour, the stories in How to Pronounce Knife honour characters struggling to find their bearings far from home, even as they do the necessary “grunt work of the world.”Readers who liked Thammavongsa’s How to Pronounce Knife are sure to enjoy Meg Todd’s Exit Strategies, a short story collection that explores the subtleties of memory and storytelling, masterfully creating the universal picture from the quotidian details. Similar to How to Pronounce Knife, Exit Strategies provides the reader with a peek into the everyday lives of individuals who are not always heard from in literature.
Some of the characters who inhabit the stories of Exit Strategies include: a teenage girl whose freedom is put at risk by her violent and unpredictable mother; a socially awkward young woman who becomes obsessed with the statue of a naked man; a former actuary with a head injury that has robbed her of her mental acuity who takes a job caring for a defiant farmer facing the decline of his body and property; an elderly Dutch woman who refuses to continue a road trip to BC when her soon-to-be-Canadian son and his dollhouse-obsessed girlfriend stop to help a stranded motorist; and an intellectually disabled woman who kidnaps three Black children and has the happiest day of her life.Like How to Pronounce Knife, Exit Strategies is unsentimental yet written with compassion and sensitivity. The stories give voice to people and experiences that often are overlooked in literature. While Thammavongsa’s stories focus specifically on the experiences of immigrants and refugees and Todd’s stories centre on women, both collections are similarly tender, uncompromising, and ultimately life-affirming.