Availability: Canada Only

Universal Disorder

  • Publication Date: September 1, 2020
  • ISBN: 9781988298559 / 1988298555
  • 8½" x 5½"

A novel about Charlie, neurodivergent, preoccupied with numbers, and desperately trying to solve for love.


Growing up on an isolated farm, Charlie is clearly different. He can never make sense of what anyone else is thinking or feeling, and finds solace in the infinitely fascinating world of numbers.


Many years later Charlie sees a phone number pop up on his call display for the first time in ten years, belonging to a woman he assumed dead. On the verge of another breakdown, he searches the streets of Montreal for a lost love — forced to face a past that he had desperately tried to forget.


With magnetic prose that positively vibrates with energy, Bernice Friesen brilliantly takes us into the mind of a captivating, unforgettable character. Universal Disorder is an extraordinary novel about the human psyche and the imperfect, disordered ways that we love each other.

“With the same exacting precision Charlie uses to make his paper birds, Friesen has sensitively created a visceral, affecting narrative, folding in just the right amounts of compassion, elegance, horror, and wonder. The voices inside Universal Disorder will echo in your head long after turning the last page.” — Ashley Little, author of Niagara Motel and Anatomy of a Girl Gang

“How does a child born into poverty and abuse gain an adulthood worth living? For young Charlie — mentally disordered, gifted, sustained by a hidden intellect — the path leads from hardscrabble prairie to 1990s Montreal Goth culture, finally to blossoming love and particle physics. Bernice Friesen’s captivating second novel is equal parts heart-stirring and mind-bending, perfectly balancing the intimate with the cosmic.” — Jim Bartley, author of Drina Bridge and Makarska

News & Events

Universal Disorder in Quill and Quire's 2020 Books of the Year: Industry Picks
Universal Disorder on CBC's Saskatchewan Weekend
November 21, 2020: Fat Oyster Reading Series presents Bernice Friesen and Universal Disorder
Recording of Bernice Friesen's book launch for Universal Disorder
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