Caroline Adderson is a Canadian novelist and short story writer currently living in Vancouver. Her first collection of short stories Bad Imaginings (1993) was nominated for the Governor General’s Award and won for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and her second collection of short stories Pleased to Meet You (2006) was longlisted for the Giller Prize. A History of Forgetting (1999), her first novel, was shortlisted for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize; her second novel Sitting Practice (2003) won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. In 2010 she released her third novel The Sky is Falling. Adderson was also presented with the Marian Engel Award in 2006 for mid-career achievement.
Sitting Practice is the story of Ross and Iliana, a couple who face a life changing accident shortly after their marriage: a car accident that leaves Iliana paralyzed. Iliana seems to come to terms with her new life in a wheelchair quite easily, but Ross has difficulty accepting her new fate and his own guilt. The first half of the story is set in Vancouver, the second half in Duncan. Although at moments the quality of the writing lags behind the strength of the plot, on a whole it has the right tone and narrative structure, and can be very insightful into the human mind and daily life, be it the mundane or profound. It is an easy read for such a complex story.
The Sky Is Falling is Adderson’s most recent novel. The story is set in Vancouver in 2004, but the majority of the narrative looks back to 1983 when the main character, Jane Z, was a 19 year old attending the University of British Columbia (UBC). Jane moves out of her aunt’s home to a house in Kitsilano to be closer to the school; her new roommates (Sonia, Dieter, and Pete) are activists against nuclear arms and the Cold War. Jane spends most of her time studying and reading Russian literature, but she slowly becomes friends with her unlikely roommates and gets drawn in to their non-violent, anti-nuclear direct-action group NAG. Adderson’s writing is, simply, great – it is funny, detailed, revealing, and fluid – and The Sky Is Falling is the perfect platform to display this. And it’s not just the writing that makes this novel a must read: the characters are nuanced and dimensional, and the plot is entertaining and insightful.
Don’t wait to pick up one of her books – you’ll quickly see why she has won multiple awards.