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Fiction Short Stories (single Author)

The Dark and Other Love Stories

by (author) Deborah Willis

Penguin Group Canada
Initial publish date
Jun 2019
Short Stories (single author), Literary, Contemporary Women
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2019
    List Price

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Winner of the 2018 Western Canada Jewish Book Awards—Fiction—The Diamond Foundation Prize
Nominated for the 2018 OLA Evergreen Award
Energized, irreverent, novelistic stories full of longing, strange humour, and the complications of human entanglement from Governor General’s Award nominee Deborah Willis

The characters in these thirteen masterful and engaging stories exist on the edge of danger, where landscapes melt into dreamscapes and every house is haunted. A drug dealer’s girlfriend signs up for the first manned mission to Mars. A girl falls in love with a man who wants to turn her into a bird. A teenage girl and her best friend test their relationship by breaking into suburban houses. A wife finds a gaping hole in the floor of the home she shares with her husband, a hole that only she can see. Full of longing and strange humour, these subtle, complex stories—about the love between a man and his pet crow, an alcoholic and his AA sponsor, a mute migrant and a newspaper reporter—show how love ties us to one another and to the world. The Dark and Other Love Stories announces the emergence of a wonderfully gifted storyteller whose stories enlarge our perceptions about the human capacity to love.

About the author


  • Nominated, OLA Evergreen Award
  • Long-listed, Scotiabank Giller Prize

Contributor Notes

DEBORAH WILLIS's last short story collection, The Dark and Other Love Stories, was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Her first book, Vanishing and Other Stories, was named one of The Globe and Mail's Best Books of 2009, and was shortlisted for the Governor General's Award for fiction. Her work has also appeared in The Walrus, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Iowa Review, Lucky Peach, The Wall Street Journal, and Zoetrope. She has worked as a bookseller at Munro's Books in Victoria, BC, as a technical writer, and as a writer-in-residence at Joy Kogawa House in Vancouver and at the University of Calgary. Deborah was born and raised in Calgary and is currently the Writer in Residence at MacEwan University in Edmonton.

Excerpt: The Dark and Other Love Stories (by (author) Deborah Willis)

She got a boyfriend, which surprised her—
she hadn’t realized she wanted one. He was a mill boy she met while sitting by herself at the marina’s outdoor restaurant, waiting for her steak dinner. She’d learned this from her mother: a good way to meet people was to take yourself out for dinner.
The young man fished on the weekends, and was cleaning his catch, slicing salmon and extracting their spines. She saw him notice her. Then he approached and offered her a fish wrapped in newspaper, the way another man might offer a bouquet of roses. “I like a girl with an appetite,” he said.

Editorial Reviews

Winner of the 2018 Western Canada Jewish Book Awards—Fiction—The Diamond Foundation Prize
Nominated for the 2018 OLA Evergreen Award
One of The Globe and Mail’s Top 100 Book of 2017

A CBC Best Canadian Fiction of 2017 selection
Praise for The Dark and Other Love Stories:

“Willis is an immensely talented writer, and her new collection is a thing of beauty: sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes funny, always sharply observed, elegant and incisive.”
—Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven

“Willis’s fiction comes complete with a seal of approval from Munro herself. The similarities are certainly evident: Both writers are concerned with matters of the heart, and more specifically those moments in which the heart betrays its owner.”
—The Globe and Mail

“The emotional range and depth of [Willis’s stories], the clarity and deftness is astonishing.”
—Alice Munro

“The Dark and Other Love Stories is a kaleidoscopic, dazzling meditation on the switchback nature of love. Deborah Willis examines every side of love, dark and light, past and present, with precision, fierceness, honesty, and sensitivity. Who do we choose to love, and who do we choose to leave behind? That question haunts the thirteen stories of this magnificent collection. Every story is ultimately a love story, Willis reminds us, even and especially the strange, wondrous stories of our own lives.”
—Marjorie Celona, author of Y

“Strange, beautiful, and sometimes a bit frightening—just like real life.”
Times Colonist
“The Dark and Other Love Stories is a bright, adventurous and lively collection. Deborah Willis seems to be able to go anywhere and do anything, taking the reader from the Ukraine to Mars. Beautifully told and strangely moving, these stories made the world seem like a slightly different and much more interesting place after I had read them.”
—Kevin Canty, author of Everything and The Underworld
“The Dark and Other Love Stories is an exhilarating book—funny and fearless, empathetic and sharp—and Deborah Willis is a dazzlingly smart and strikingly original writer. I didn’t want this book to end.”
—Molly Antopol, Author of The UnAmericans
“These are stories that I marvel at as a writer. From a reality show on Mars to post-Cold War Russia—the book has been meticulously researched. Yet the stories are not weighted by that labour—they're enlivened, made real. Truly the most impressive collection I’ve read in a long time.”
—Eliza Robertson, Author of Wallflowers

“These poignant, sharply-observed stories examine love in its many guises. A marvelous collection.”
—Kirsten Valdez Quade, Author of Night at the Fiestas
“This is a fully mature, beautiful realized collection. Indeed, in this dazzling suite of stories, Willis cements her rightful claim as a major new voice in Canadian fiction.”
The Toronto Star
“Willis’s subtle machinations are masked by her urgent and propulsive prose.”
Quill & Quire

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