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The Birthday Lunch by Joan Clark
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The Birthday Lunch

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The Birthday Lunch by Joan Clark
Paperback $22.95
Jun 09, 2015 | ISBN 9780345809568

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  • Jun 09, 2015 | ISBN 9780345809568

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  • Jun 09, 2015 | ISBN 9780345809582

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Longlisted for the 2017 International Dublin Literary Award

“An absorbing read.” —Gateway Gazette
“Each of the surviving family members responds to Lily’s abrupt passing in his or her own way, and Clark probes these responses with the clear eye of a novelist, in the process creating a richly textured and emotionally authentic story that does not shy away from the mean and petty aspects of human nature. . . . The narrative is told from multiple points of view, and the author’s skill is such that she can jump with apparent ease from one to another, often within a single scene, without jarring or confusing the reader. Flashbacks are introduced at oppor­tune moments, deftly expanding on what we know of the characters and giving heft to their actions and motivations in the present. The New Brunswick set­ting is drawn in fond detail, coming alive with visual and sensory cues. It all adds up to a superb performance by a writer whose talents, late in her career, show no sign of diminishing. . . . In this moving and disquieting novel, Joan Clark demonstrates that small actions and seemingly trivial decisions can have life-altering consequences.” —Ian Colford, The Fiddlehead
Clark nails it. . . . Clark’s language . . . is clear, unfussy, and rich as the Black Forest cake that is one character’s specialty. . . . It is as carefully configured as an interior by a Dutch Master. (I don’t know if Clark is Dutch, but she sure is a master.) Low-key and deftly observed, The Birthday Lunch provides a menu of fruitful human drama.” —Joan Sullivan, The Telegram
The Birthday Lunch is a quiet novel that saves its surprises for its final third. . . . Ultimately, the novel celebrates the intimacies shared between family and friends, while simultaneously revealing the (potentially fatal) nature of unresolved hostilities.” —Angie Abdou, Quill & Quire
“The book’s glance at small town life as juxtaposed against the pain of personal tragedy is impressive. Clark, too, is impressive as she examines ‘the quicksand of sorrow’ which can catch, unaware, the survivors of sudden disaster. . . . As she sifts through what are considered the aftershocks of sorrow (disbelief, rebellion, outrage) Clark paints a portrait not only of family dysfunction but of human resilience, and of the stages in between in which denial is replaced by grudging acceptance. Clark has done her homework and her chronicle, tartly observed, rings true.” —Nancy Schiefer, Chatham Daily News
“As in all her work . . . readers can expect unexpected humor, hard truths, beauty and above all, compassion.” —Sean Wilson, Ottawa Citizen 
“[A] new novel from Joan Clark is very definitely a reason to celebrate.” —Parry Sound North Star 
“[A] thoughtful and compassionate read.” —Zoomer Magazine
“The latest from the popular and award-winning Canadian author of Latitudes of Melt.” —Toronto Star 
“Poignant.” —Kendra Marion, The Reading Society
“[A] beautifully written and completely engrossing story of love, loss and family dynamics in the aftermath of a tragedy.” —Teresa Salvatore, The Reading Society
“A collage of sorrow that grabs you with its first sentence.” —Kitty Prophet, The Reading Society
“Joan Clark . . . blazes her own distinct trail, fondly but incisively portraying Sussex, New Brunswick. . . . [S]tellar. . . . [A] vibrant delight.” —Brett Josef Grubisic, National Post

“A richly detailed, enthralling account of a family struggling in the aftermath of a woman’s sudden death.  Clark grabs you with a powerful opening sentence then takes you on a weeklong journey through grief, regrets, recrimination and betrayal. It’s a surprising and beautiful ballad of loss that begs us to question our grasp on this world, and on each other.” —Lori Lansens, author of The Mountain Story
“Utterly absorbed, I read The Birthday Lunch in two sittings. With measured steps, Joan Clark leads us into the heart of tragedy, exposing its stunning swiftness and pain-layered aftermath. This beautiful, wise novel delineates place—1980s Sussex, New Brunswick, with its lilacs, morning mists, church bells—and character, a family stunned by death. Grief, love, accusation: Clark is unflinching in her examination of tragedy’s bewildering effects, and how, in the summer days that follow devastation, a family comes together in its new pattern and finds a bittersweet equilibrium. Unforgettably, The Birthday Lunch renders the mundane brilliance of shock—a new way to see the world.” —Beth Powning, author of A Measure of Light
“Clark’s writing is deliciously precise and the book quietly explosive.” —Emma Healey, author of Elizabeth Is Missing


International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award LONGLIST 2017

Newfoundland and Labrador Book Awards SHORTLIST 2015

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