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André Alexis

André Alexis, photo by Hannah Zoe Davison
André Alexis, photo by Hannah Zoe Davison

André Alexis is a novelist, playwright, short-story writer, and essayist who was born in Trinidad and grew up in Canada. He is the recipient of a 2017 Windham-Campbell Prize in fiction, becoming the third-ever Canadian writer to receive one of the richest literary prizes in the world, which recognizes an author’s complete body of work.

“Across all genres, he works in astonishingly clear, supple prose that propels readers through the complex philosophical questions – How does an awareness of mortality shape consciousness? What is the relationship, if any, between love and reason?” the selection committee said on the prize’s website. ”Alexis has time and again proven himself to be a provocative and modern thinker; his work feels ever current, even as it delivers all the humor and warmth of a well-told tale.”

Alexis’s books refashion old forms: his debut novel, Childhood, makes use of footnotes, graphs, and lists, while Beauty and Sadness blends fiction and essay. His latest project is a five-part series of novels that he calls a “quincunx.” Beginning with Pastoral and continuing through Fifteen Dogs and The Hidden Keys, each book has attempted to resuscitate a forgotten or neglected genre: the pastoral, the apologue, and the quest narrative.

In an interview with VICE, Alexis says that Trinidad was the earliest influence on his writing. “… the way Trinidadians speak, the rhythms of storytelling, the repetitions, the simplicity of language. It isn’t that I necessarily write so that a reader can see or hear those things in my work. But they’re where I start from. My ideal is the simplicity and beauty of the folk tale.”

Fifteen Dogs is the winner of the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize (Canada’s top fiction honor), the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and the 2017 popular CBC literary-debate program Canada Reads. Childhood received the Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Trillium Book Award and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize.

Alexis was raised in Ottawa and currently lives and works in Toronto, where he has hosted programming for CBC Radio, has reviewed books for the Globe and Mail, and is an editor at large for This Magazine.

selected bibliography

The Hidden Keys by André Alexis
The Hidden Keys (2016)
Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis

Fifteen Dogs (2015)
Pastoral by André Alexis
Pastoral (2014)
Childhood by André Alexis
Childhood (1998)

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