Tellby Frances Itani
The mesmerizing follow-up to Itani’s award-winning Deafening, Tell charts the year 1919, when “the boys” came home from the Great War.
The international sensation Deafening launched the story of Grania, deaf from the age of five, and her sister Tress, who helped to create their secret language. Tell picks up from the return of the sisters’ husbands from the war and follows Tress’s partner, Kenan, a young, shell-shocked, and disfigured soldier who confines himself indoors, venturing outside only at night, to visit the frozen bay where he skated as a boy. Saddened by her altered marriage, Tress seeks advice from her aunt Maggie. But Maggie and her husband, Am, have problems of their own. Maggie finds joy singing in the town’s newly created choral society. Am, caretaker of the post office building, is troubled by the widening gulf in his marriage and spends more and more time in the clock tower above their apartment. As the second decade of the twentieth century draws to a close, the lives of the two couples become increasingly entwined. Startling revelations surface as layers of silence begin to crumble.
Told with Itani’s signature power and grace, Tell is both a deeply moving story about the burdens of the past and a beautifully rendered reminder of how the secrets we bury to protect ourselves can also be the cause of our undoing. This is a stunning achievement from one of our finest writers.
“Small moments assume lyrical dimensions and significance, and here is where Itani’s true gift lies.” —New York Times
“Powerful conversations are balanced with deft portrayals of grief and pain, sentiments made palatable by Itani’s thoughtful prose . . . Unsettling but never hopeless, Tell thoughtfully acknowledges a sad reality . . . It is an invitation to speak, share and commiserate–an invocation to tell those things that seem forbidden and foregone.” —ZYZZYVA
“Itani’s gorgeous gift for writing quietly absorbing stories of torn lives bravely trying to carry on is on full display here with all the power of her previous novels.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“Masterful . . . a triumph of the human spirit that resonates almost physically in the reader” An enthralling reminder of the toll the war—and all wars—take, not only on the soldiers but on the families who keep faith on the home front.” —The Toronto Star
“A wonderful story, with a richly detailed sense of time and place, and compelling characters who, ultimately, all have secrets to tell.” —Winnipeg Free Press
Finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize