One of the joys of being on the short list for the Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award was talking to all of the judges at the awards ceremony. BIC reviewer Nancy Wigston chose the shortlist after reading every first novel published in Canada last year -- a job for which I will never volunteer. The final judges were a fine collection of Canadian writers, and they were all very generous with their commentary about all of the short listed titles. Here is a selection of what they had to say about The Uninvited Guest (from the October issue of Books in Canada):
"If you could imagine Milan Kundera without attitude or arrogance, you'd be close. I'd remember this novel, if for nothing else, for the description of a Russian hockey star scoring a goal -- a moment of grace and insight, as far from Cherry cobbler as one could imagine. There are many such moments."
"Degen leaps and twists deftly with his narrative line to highlight the differing meanings a game can have in Canada and in a repressive regime..."
"Degen has elevated endless esoteric minutiae of 'the Canadian sport' into the stuff of fine narrative... echoes of Vonnegut with a hint of Damon Runyon, or Hugh Garner at his best, if he'd paid more attention to hockey."
"Who knew that the Stanley Cup's visit to a winning player's home town could turn into a look at the impact of the Cold War on gamesmanship and survival? John Degen, that's who. The Uninvited Guest should have a wide readership. There's lots to talk about in its clever pages."
Thank you to all the judges.