by F.B. André
- Spring 2007
- ISBN 978-1-55380-044-6 (1-55380-044-3)
- 6″ x 9″ Trade Paperback, 160 pages
- Short Stories
In this new collection of stories, F.B. André explores what it means to “belong.” Frequently his stories portray individuals involved in mixed relationships, of different cultures and races or backgrounds — of people struggling to feel at home with themselves and their situations. André depicts characters newly arrived in Canada as well as those who have called Canada home for generations. With his wonderful ear for dialogue, André allows us to listen in on things that are deeply felt, and we are reminded that the unsaid often reveals more than that which is said.
In “What the Future Holds,” the wife of a graduate student from Korea, “would like to give her baby the gift of birthright: to grow up knowing that there is always the possibility of a door that opens out onto a new life.” But in her new marriage that doorway is shrinking ever smaller, and she will have to find a way to widen it. Often André finds a sense of black humour in his situations as when a woman’s dying request is that both her husband and ex-husband join together to spread her ashes.
And in the title story, “What Belongs,” André depicts a contemporary researcher interviewing a descendant of one of the boatload of Afro-Americans that Governor James Douglas invited to settle in British Columbia in 1858. Moving backwards and forwards from the present to the past, André asks, When does a place become home? When can you stake your claim? When does it become automatic that we are from here, that we belong?
“The stories in What Belongs are memorable. The characters – ordinary as they may often appear – become extraordinary through their conflicts, revelations, and triumphs. F.B. André is a writer who doesn’t lean on ornament to tell his stories. Instead, he cuts straight through to the heart and allows the people he invents to shine.”
— Jay Ruzesky
“F.B. André has the true story-teller’s gift for leading the reader quickly and sometimes slyly into the middle of events and to move in space and time with the agility of a tightrope walker. Written with strength and clarity and humour, these stories often reflect human frailty. But there are no ‘small’ lives here. André holds his characters up to a charitable light and the dilemmas they are involved in resonate with the lives of us all. These stories, from a writer who knows where the tears of things are as well as the laughter, are a joy to read.”
— Rachel Wyatt
“André’s thematic concerns are a deft blend of the culturally specific and the universal”
— Prairie Fire