"André Alexis novel paints a Mulroney-era portrait of a crazily complex, decadent and exciting Ottawa... This portrait of Ottawa comes from an author who is perhaps the greatest literary cheerleader this town has known... He deserves the key to the city." -The Ottawa Citizen
Alexis’s long-awaited second novel follows his award-winning Childhood.
Set in Ottawa during the Mulroney years, Asylum is André Alexis’s sweeping, edged-in-satire, yet deeply serious tale of intertwined lives and fortunes, of politics and vain ambition, of the building of a magnificent prison, of human fallibility, of the search for refuge, of the impossibility of love, and of finding home. Whether he is taking us into the machinations of a government office or into the mysterious workings of the human heart, Alexis is always alert to the humour and the profound truth of any situation. His cast of characters is eccentric and unforgettable, all recognizable in one way or another as aspects of ourselves or people we know well. At the centre of the story, which covers almost a decade, is a visionary project to build an ideal prison, a perfect metaphor for the purest aspects of artistic ambition and for all that is great and flawed in the world.
André Alexis is a true original, one of the most talented and astute writers writing in Canada today. This dazzling novel is filled with tragedy, dry wit, intellectual grist. It is playful, linguistically accomplished, and psychologically profound. Its yearnings constitute the highest level of human concerns and pursuits. Alexis has written The Great Canadian Novel, with a twist.
McClelland & Stewart, Canada, Spring 2008
Globe 100 Best Book, 2008
"Mark, the narrator of Asylum, in living in Italy at a Gregorian monastery. Then, after 14 years away from his birthplace, he longs for Ottawa with heartfelt anguish. Alexis continues the serious writer's magical business of making it possible for readers to lose themselves and find themselves in another's words, 'losing and finding,' as Mark says, 'being the heart of whatever the journey of this life is.' " -Globe 100 Best Book
"Finely nuanced, cosmic in sweep and, above all, timely, Asylum is remarkable for its 21st-century redress of morality." - Vancouver Sun
"Asylum makes it clear that the map of the soul often resembles the map of a city. In this case, for our narrator, and one suspects for our author, too, the canals and bridges of Ottawa are a pathway leading to an inner sanctum. For Alexis, the asylum we seek resides in our memories." - Montreal Gazette
"Andre Alexis's new novel, Asylum, is so constantly surprising, so rich and affecting, that it may just change the way you view Ottawa." - National Post
André Alexis was born in Trinidad and grew up in Canada. His debut novel, Childhood (McClelland & Stewart, 1998), won the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award, shared the Trillium Award, and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. The novel was widely acclaimed, and has been published around the world. André also writes for the theatre and CBC Radio.