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Fiction Literary

Wait Softly Brother

by (author) Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer

Wolsak and Wynn Publishers Ltd
Initial publish date
May 2023
Literary, Contemporary Women, Biographical, Family Life, Civil War Era
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2023
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2023
    List Price
  • Downloadable audio file

    Publish Date
    Mar 2024
    List Price

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From lost siblings to the horrors of war to tales of selkie wives, Wait Softly Brother is filled with questions about memory, reality and the truths hidden in family lore.

About the author

Critics described the stories in Way Up, Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer's first book of fiction, as "some of the most impressive examples of new Canadian fiction in recent memory." Published in 2003, Way Up received a Danuta Gleed Award and was a finalist for the Relit Award. The Nettle Spinner, her first novel, was shortlisted for the in Canada First Novel award and was also named a best of 2005 by January magazine. Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer is the former fiction editor of The Literary Review of Canada and has also worked as a tree-planter, a lumberjack, and a baker. Her reviews have appeared in The Globe and Mail, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Toronto Star, and The National Post. She teaches creative writing at the University of Toronto and is the Magazine Editor for

Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer's profile page


  • Long-listed, Scotiabank Giller Prize

Editorial Reviews

Celebrated Ottawa-born writer Kuitenbrouwer . . . blurs the line between fiction and autobiography in her new novel about Kathryn, a middle-aged woman who makes the devastating but necessary decision to leave her marriage and family. She escapes to her childhood home in Southern Ontario to learn more about the story of her stillborn brother, but her aging parents instead put her to work sifting through their “archive” – endless boxes with generations worth of keepsakes and photographs – in the pig shed. Family lore about an 18th-century ancestor hired for the American Civil War as a substitute soldier commingles with observations about truth, memory and reality.

The Zoomer Book Club

"Wait Softly Brother is a suspenseful, complex and unusual work with writing both captivating and intelligent."

Winnipeg Free Press

Firmly and deliberately established in the realms of auto-fiction (simply put, a fictionalized autobiography, though a full definition is a wonderful rabbithole to spend an afternoon in), the novel, however, shifts almost imperceptibly into the realm of myth and folklore. Rain, for example, begins the day of Kuitenbrouwer’s arrival, and doesn’t stop for weeks, the land growing soppy, then flooding outright, isolating the house and its residents. In addition, Kuitenbrouwer’s investigation into her brother soon comes to incorporate stories of a selkie (a being who can shift between seal and human forms, by donning and shedding their skin) in the family. . . . Rich with the true stuff of imagined lives, and the imagined stuff of true lives, “Wait Softly Brother” is a glorious enchantment indeed.

Toronto Star

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