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Winter, Kathleen.

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Pub Date:
Black Cat 2011.


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Central - Houston Public Library Adult Fiction Book WINTE

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Kathleen Winter's luminous debut novel is a deeply affecting portrait of life in an enchanting seaside town and the trials of growing up unique in a restrictive environment.

In 1968, into the devastating, spare atmosphere of the remote coastal town of Labrador, Canada, a child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor fully girl, but both at once. Only three people are privy to the secret--the baby's parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbor and midwife, Thomasina. Though Treadway makes the difficult decision to raise the child as a boy named Wayne, the women continue to quietly nurture the boy's female side. And as Wayne grows into adulthood within the hyper-masculine hunting society of his father, his shadow-self, a girl he thinks of as "Annabel," is never entirely extinguished.

Kathleen Winter has crafted a literary gem about the urge to unveil mysterious truth in a culture that shuns contradiction, and the body's insistence on coming home. A daringly unusual debut full of unforgettable beauty, Annabel introduces a remarkable new voice to American readers.

Author Notes

Kathleen Winter's Annabel was a New York Times Editors' Choice, short-listed for The Orange Prize for Fiction, and a finalist for all three of Canada's major literary awards: The Scotiabank Giller Prize, Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction. Her first collection of short stories, boYs , was the winner of both the Winterset Award and the 2006 Metcalf-Rooke Award. A long-time resident of St. John's, Newfoundland, Winter now lives in Montreal.

Visit her blog at

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Wayne, born into the harsh, rural landscape of Labrador, Canada, in 1968, is a hermaphrodite. It is his father who ultimately decides to raise him as a male and names him. Only Wayne's parents and their friend Thomasina Baikie, also present at his birth, are aware of his gender duality. The two women silently battle against Wayne's father's gender assignment, and as Wayne grows older, he must contend with the two genders struggling for dominance within him. His father, Treadway, a trapper who spends most of his time outdoors, works hard to steer Wayne away from his feminine side. His mother, Jacinta, becomes increasingly estranged from her husband as she mourns the loss of her female child. Following the tragic death of her husband and daughter, Thomasina travels the world and sends enticing postcards to Wayne of the world beyond his own. A simple yet eloquent coming-of-age tale, this debut novel quietly questions our assumptions about gender by presenting us with a host of complex, evocative characters. A fantastic read that will appeal to fans of Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex (2002).--Hunt, Julie Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Isolated as Croyden Harbour may be from the social upheaval of 1968, the tiny village on the southeast Labrador coast plays host to its own revolution in Winter's sincere, self-serious debut. Jacinta and Treadway Blake are like any other couple in town-he's away on the trapline all winter, she's confined to domestic life. But the clarity of traditional gender roles begins to unravel when Jacinta gives birth to a hermaphrodite. Both Treadway and the local doctor decide the baby will be brought up as a boy-he's named Wayne, and his female genitalia are sewn shut. Meanwhile, Jacinta's friend Thomasina, quietly tends to the spiritual development of the child's female identity. Kept in the dark about his condition for most of his childhood, Wayne struggles to live up to the manly standards imposed by his well-meaning if curmudgeonly father, but when adolescence rolls around, Wayne's body reveals a number of surprises and becomes a battleground of physiology, identity, and sexual discovery. Though delivered at times with a heavy hand, the novel's moral of acceptance and understanding is sure to win Winter many fans. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Winter's first novel tells the story of an intersex child born in the late 1960s in a small, rural town in Canada and raised as a boy. His parents try to protect Wayne from harm, each in his or her own way; his father tries to interest him in the wilderness skills that men in their community use to make a living, but his mother refuses to discourage his interest in more feminine pursuits. Wayne doesn't learn of his intersexuality until a medical emergency reveals his condition to him. Though he tries to be a boy to fit in, he is preoccupied by the girl that he knows lives within him; he has to leave home and quit his hormone therapy to allow his body to be as ambiguous as he feels inside. Winter's lyrical language contrasts with the characters' discomfort about Wayne's secret. VERDICT Readers interested in literary explorations of gender, such as Jeffrey Eugenides's Middlesex, will appreciate this novel as well. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/10.]-Amy Ford, St. Mary¿s Cty. Lib., Lexington Park, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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