Wan - Freehand Books

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  • Publication Date: May 1, 2022
  • ISBN: 9781988298993 / 1988298997
  • 240 pages; 5½" x 8"

Free Reading Guide

Shortlisted for the 2023 Fred Kerner Book Award

A Miramichi Reader Best Fiction of 2022

Wan is a masterpiece. This beautiful, painterly, sublime, and sonically exquisite novel by Dawn Promislow is a work of utter genius.” – Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, author of All the Broken Things

Narrated in a completely distinctive and mesmerizing voice, Wan is the story of Jacqueline, a privileged artist in 1970s South Africa. After an anti-apartheid activist comes to hide in her garden house, Jacqueline’s carefully constructed life begins to unravel.

Written in gorgeous and spare prose, this exquisite debut novel grapples with questions of complicity and guilt, of privilege, and of the immeasurable value of art and of life.

“Told in short, episodic chapters, Wan is a book whose whole adds up to far more than its parts. It is a small, private story, that sheds light on the psychology of the individual caught up in a monstrous system. In its quiet meditation on art, the novel raises simple but profound questions. . .” READING JEWISH FICTION

Wan is a masterpiece. This beautiful, painterly, sublime, and sonically exquisite novel by Dawn Promislow is a work of utter genius.” KATHRYN KUITENBROUWER, author of All the Broken Things

“A stunning, compelling read, Dawn Promislow’s first novel belongs to the literature of witness – an eloquent portrayal of a white South African woman in the apartheid era, one which speaks with a universal voice to our present moment. The author captures Jacqueline’s quiet but acute unease, as she and her husband negotiate a perilous world, the courage it asks of them, and the catastrophe that follows. This is riveting work, courageous and honest.” CAROLE GIANGRANDE author of The Tender Birds

“A very still but articulate woman speaks with great precision about her privileged life in apartheid South Africa. But the stillness is an illusion. Beneath her calm voice, political pressure is building and sexual tension is rising. The atmosphere in this powerful novel is the literary equivalent of the highly charged atmosphere you feel before a major storm. I couldn’t put this book down.” ANTANAS SILEIKA author of Provisionally Yours

“This exquisite novel insists on being read at the pace of its narrator’s voice. An insistence I gave into like a warm spring, heated by the relentless tectonic shifts taking place beneath the surface.” DARCIE FRIESEN HOSSACK Commonwealth Writers Prize shortlisted author of Mennonites Don’t Dance

Fred Kerner Book Award, 2023 (short-listed)

News & Events

Wan reviewed in Reading Jewish Fiction
Alberta Book Publishing Awards Shortlist
Wan shortlisted for the 2023 Fred Kerner Book Award
Dawn Promislow on What Happened Next
February 6, 2023: (Online) Dawn Promislow in Conversation with Cathy Tile
March 22, 2023: (Online) Dawn Promislow in conversation with Dr. Nora Gold for Beth Tzedec's Book and Film Club
March 30, 2023: (Online) AuthorTalk with Dawn Promislow and Dr. Janna Nadler
Wan a Holiday Hotlist pick in The Quarantine Review
Wan and Nine Dash Line on The Miramichi Reader's Best Fiction of 2022
Dawn Promislow featured on All Lit Up's Writer's Block
September 9-11, 2022: Dawn Promislow at Eden Mills Writers' Festival
Wan reviewed in berfrois
Wan reviewed in Great Dark Wonder
Wan reviewed in the Canadian Jewish News magazine
Ian Colford reviews Wan in the Miramichi Reader
Dawn Promislow in conversation with Sue Burge
Sunday, May 15, 2022: Dawn Promislow launches Wan (online)
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