About Kathy Page
“Kathy Page reminds us what a novel can do that almost nothing else can,” Fred Stenson writes of Page’s latest novel, The Find, released in Canada in April 2010: “take elements as different as dinosaur hunting, landclaims,
inherited disease, and abuse of power, and link them with grace and necessity. Above all, The Find is a love story of the rarest kind: one with something new to say.”
Kathy Page is the author of seven novels, including The Story of My Face, which was short listed for the Orange Prize in 2002, and Alphabet, which was nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction in 2005.
Alphabet was described as “Dark, disturbing and delicious,“ (January Magazine) and Guardian columnist Erwin James called it: “…a wonderful book, peculiar, intense, revealing, challenging, exhausting – and above all, riveting.”
Complex characters and compelling narrative are Page’s trademarks, as is suspense, both psychological and existential. “One of the most compelling, unsettling novels I’ve read in ages,“ Sarah Waters wrote in the Independent on Sunday, choosing The Story of My Face as one of her Books of the Year, “which should appeal to fans of classy thrillers and literary fiction alike.”
“Page,” according to Claudia Casper in the Globe and Mail “is at her best developing the political and personal nuances of conflict,” and the complex workings of both small and larger scale power dynamics are something she uses to great effect in her work. Nothing, according to Page, is as simple as it seems, and nothing has to stay how it is.
Page’s work is sometimes dark, but it is also profoundly optimistic. She identifies her themes as “loss, survival, and transformation: the magic by which a bad hand becomes a good chance”.
And early novel, Frankie Styne & the Silver Man, reprinted 2008, shows her playing with a suspense narrative for the first time, and sets up some of the questions about the nature of identity which have continued to animate her work: What makes a person who s/he is? How much change is possible? This novel’s unexpected ending signals a transition from the starker work that preceded it. “I read on, captivated and creeped-out,” novelistCaroline Adderson writes of Frankie Styne, “but this being Kathy Page, I always trusted I was heading away from a nightmare, towards a happier place.”
Page’s work often turns on life-changing choices that confront her characters: to know or not to know about the future, whether or not to tell the truth about the past, whether or not to trust someone with a secret. She is fascinated by the nature of fiction/story-telling and by why we need stories, as well as by the nature of the relationship between reader and writer.
“A novel is a printed circuit through which flows the force of a reader’s own life.” E L Doctorow
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