[a Novel]

Book - 2011
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NOMINEE 2011 - Scotiabank Giller Prize

Touch begins with Stephen, an Anglican priest, returning from Vancouver to the northern BC town of Sawgamet where he grew up, just in time for his mother's death.
Sawgamet was founded by Stephen's grandfather Jeannot, when he heard a voice in the woods calling his name and his dog, Flaireur, refused to take another step. Back then, as Stephen remembers it from the stories passed down to him, men were giants, or even gods, striving to tame the land. The world of Sawgamet was enchanted, alive with qallupilluit and ijirait, sea-witches and shape-shifters; Jeannot saw caribou covered with gold dust and found gold nuggets the size of boulders. Sometimes winter refused to end, and blizzards buried the whole town in snow for months at a time. Sawgamet was a place where Jeannot had to kill a man twice and then carry the bones around with him, bound in cloth, to make sure he stayed dead.
Years later, with his mother on her deathbed, Stephen tries to piece together the past from myths and stories and memories that he's not sure he can trust. And not everything is magical: if life in Jeannot's Sawgamet was richer and brighter than it seems for Stephen now, it was also harder and more brutal, with both fire and ice claiming too many lives before their time. Jeannot never knew his son, Pierre, Stephen's father, who was himself maimed in a logging accident; Stephen's childhood was marked by tragic loss, and a lasting pain he must now confront as he considers how to pass Jeannot's stories on to his own daughters.
A chronicle of the birth of a town and the passing of a way of being in the world, Touch is unique, compelling and full of marvels. But this book captures the most personal moments in life as well as the most dramatic ones - Alexi Zentner conveys three generations of a family's intimate emotional experience in language that pierces the heart. This beautiful and moving novel is a great story told by a natural storyteller, and to read Touch is to enter an enthralling world that you'll never want to leave.
Publisher: Toronto : Knopf Canada, c2011
ISBN: 9780307399458
Branch Call Number: ZENT
Characteristics: 264 p. ; 22 cm


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Jun 11, 2018

This is a beautifully written book, alternatively chilling and heartwarming. Zentner blends realistic depictions of a logging/mining town with the otherworldly experiences of the main character's family. Several of the scenes are so vivid that they have haunted me for days after reading them.

Sep 08, 2013

The author described his novel as "mythical realism". It is a three generational family saga set in a north-west boom town founded on gold and later on lumber. It reads as if it were based partially on the author's family stories. At its best, it could be understood as how we mythologize our lives to understand life itself.

WVMLStaffPicks May 31, 2013

A spellbinding novel about hardship, love, triumph and sacrifice so intense, the tale turns mythical. Jeannot, the narrator’s grandfather, walked two years from Montreal into the virgin North until his dog simply refused to move further. There, he founded the village of Sawgamet, where the fury of winter defies logic, where past and present mingle, where the forest teems with magic sweet and evil. An exquisite work dense with haunting imagery that transforms even a scene of tragedy into one of unforgettable beauty.

May 02, 2013


May 23, 2012

Intruiging magical family saga told in a way that someone who dislikes the word "saga" enjoyed it thoroughly. Also love the BC setting in the fictional Sawgamet. Beautiful novel for any stage in a writing career.

Apr 03, 2012

I loved the magic realism of this novel. A blizzard covering the whole town for an entire winter, creatures and ghosts entwined with the pain of grief, loss and the power of love and family with a hint of humor. This family saga was a great surprise for me and I loved every minute spent reading it. Great first novel for Alexi Zentner, I am looking forward to a second novel!

Mar 03, 2012

This book teases apart our views of death, isolation & wild places.

Feb 27, 2012

Wow! A great Canadian novel from a new voice.

ontherideau Feb 24, 2012

This is an excellent story, historic mythical fiction. I feel like I fall into the pages.
If you like this try Night Circus.

May 03, 2011

amazing story telling powers.swept me away so much that i read it in one sitting!!write more pleaseeeeeeeeee

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