06-24-2013 11:32 PM
This is a featured new release rather than a featured author visit, and for a very sad reason. The author of THE SILENT WIFE, A.S.A. Harrison of Toronto,Canada, did not live to see her book's debut. This makes me so incredibly sad, I can hardly put it into words.
On the cusp of literary fame, Toronto author A.S.A. Harrison slips away
First novel, to be launched in June, earned extravagant reviews from peers and critics
By: GREG QUILL BOOKS COLUMNIST, Published on Tue Apr 16 2013
Toronto non-fiction author and editor Susan (A.S.A.) Harrison died Sunday, as her first novel, the psychological thriller The Silent Wife , was garnering advance kudos and rave reviews.
“There is sadness about missing what is about to happen with the launch of her novel,” Harrison’s husband of 30 years, renowned visual artist John Massey, told the Star.
“However, she did see its success in terms of the numerous countries that have bought publishing rights and, as well, she was very happy about the very positive endorsements from other authors the novel had been receiving.”
Harrison was 65. The cause of death was cancer, Massey said.
Author Susan Swan, a longtime friend, said in an email to the Star, “Her young death is tragic. I take some comfort in knowing that she knew her book was already a success.
“I always admired her daring. I consider her non-fiction book Orgasms an underground classic. And I loved The Silent Wife .”
Quill & Quire, the Canadian book trade magazine, notes on its website, “Harrison was on the cusp of international success with The Silent Wife , which is to be published in June by Penguin Canada.”
Friends and colleagues predict the book will bring Harrison immediate fame after its North American launch June 25.
The book is already an international sensation among publishers, with U.S. and U.K. editions due out in June, as well as a Dutch edition slated for September and a French edition due in 2014, Quill & Quire says.
Harrison came to prominence in Toronto’s art world in the late 1960s when she participated as a performance artist and collaborator with Margaret Dragu, and courted the lifestyle and dynamics of Toronto’s internationally known art collective General Idea.
In 1974, she published Orgasms , a pioneering collection of interviews with women, under the pen name A.S.A. Harrison.
“Susan was a skilful writer with a wonderful sense of exactitude,” her agent, Samantha Haywood, said in a news release Tuesday.
“In the 1970s and ’80s she worked as a typesetter for the Toronto Sun and Gandalph Graphics, and later her acute insight and precision drew her to a career in editing, both for C Magazine and independently for a large number of galleries, artists, and critics.”
Harrison collaborated with Dragu on Revelations , a book of essays on striptease, and with Elly Roselle on a series of case studies in psychotherapy titled Changing the Mind, Healing the Body .
She also blended her interest in personality and the occult in a humorous book on cat astrology, Zodicat Speaks, and belonged to several community groups that helped make better lives for animals.
But it’s with The Silent Wife , which took her the better part of a decade to finish, that her friends and colleagues believe Harrison will leave her mark on world literature.
“I’m heartbroken she doesn’t get to participate in her book’s international launch this June and July, but I’m comforted by the fact that she saw all the rave advance praise from her peers and the amazing international rights sales to date,” said Haywood.
“She is a true publishing success story and she deserves every inch of it.”
In a statement issued by Penguin Canada, the publisher said, “We are deeply saddened over the loss of a great woman and an incredibly gifted writer.”
Among the rave notices published on Harrison’s web site , www.asaharrison.com , perennial bestselling crime novelist Elizabeth George writes “A.S.A. Harrison knocks it out of the park with her first novel, The Silent Wife .
“With a spare, elegant, and deft hand, she paints two dueling psychological portraits of longtime live-in lovers who become putative killer and hapless victim in a tale that no one is likely to forget any time soon. I couldn’t put this book down.”
Correction - April 18, 2013: This article was edited from a previous version that misstated the given name of author Elizabeth George.
06-24-2013 11:35 PM
A.S.A. Harrison knocks it out of the park with her first novel The Silent Wife. With a spare, elegant, and deft hand, she paints two dueling psychological portraits of longtime live-in lovers who become putative killer and hapless victim in a tale that no one is likely to forget any time soon. I couldn’t put this book down.
New York Times bestselling author of Believing the Lie
What a deliciously wicked pleasure The Silent Wife was to read. I love books where I can’t guess the outcome, although I was rooting for Jodi all the way. A very clever, very funny comedy of manners spliced with a domestic thriller.
New York Times bestselling author of Life After Life and Case Histories
SUPERB. Full of properly sympathetic (i.e. realistically flawed & screwed up) characters. As a novel about the dark side of marriage and relationships, it’s better than Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. A must read for anyone who is occasionally ruthless, reckless or psychologically weird—and anyone who loves clever books with depth and heart.
Author of The Other Woman’s House
This is an utterly compelling story, gorgeously written and with so many shocks and surprises that I raced through it to find out what happens next. My highest recommendation.
New York Times bestselling author of Gravity
Beautifully written and deeply unsettling, this darkly funny examination of what happens when you’ve got nothing left to lose is also brilliantly addictive. It left me almost breathless as I raced towards the devastating finale.
New York Times bestselling author of Before I Go to Sleep
Like a tiny crack in the windshield of destiny, The Silent Wifeexamines the ultimate shattering of a perfectly civilized marriage. Intense, hypnotic, and thoroughly absorbing, Harrison challenges her characters to venture beyond their comfort zones, into a world where anything is possible, even murder.
Author of A Stranger Like You and The Doctor’s Wife
A.S.A. Harrison’s The Silent Wife is a chilling portrait of a relationship gone terribly awry. Harrison takes the reader down a wickedly twisted path that has us at once rooting for and wary of the protagonists. A breathtaking story that will keep you reading well into the night and wide awake long after the final page.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author
A gripping story of deception, denial and double-edged revenge. The Silent Wife combines taut pacing and psychological nuance to haunting and memorable effect.
Author of bestselling and Giller-nominated The Imposter Bride
06-24-2013 11:37 PM
Jodi and Todd are at a bad place in their marriage.
Much is at stake, including the affluent life they lead in their beautiful waterfront condo in Chicago, as she, the killer, and he, the victim, rush haplessly toward the main event.
Chapter by chapter, the narrative evolves from their alternating perspectives. He is a committed cheater. She lives and breathes denial. He exists in dual worlds. She likes to settle scores. He decides to play for keeps. She has nothing left to lose. The alternating voices pitch the reader back and forth between protagonists in conflict who are fighting for self-preservation, both making deeply consequential mistakes, behaving in ever more foolhardy ways, and losing at the games they are playing.
The Silent Wife is a finely wrought, emotionally charged psychological thriller about a marriage in the throes of dissolution, a couple headed for catastrophe, concessions that can’t be made, and promises that won’t be kept. It ensnares the reader from page one and doesn’t let go.
06-24-2013 11:38 PM - edited 06-24-2013 11:48 PM
Canadian author A.S.A. Harrison dies at 65, before release of her first novel, The Silent Wife
Canadian non-fiction author and editor A.S.A. Harrison has died just months before the release of her debut novel.
A publicist for Penguin Canada said in an email that the author died Sunday at age 65.
In the ’70s and ’80s, Susan Harrison worked as a typesetter for the Toronto Sun and Gandalph Graphics. She also had a career as an editor for C Magazine as well as independently for a large number of galleries, artists and critics.
In 1974, she published Orgasms (Coach House Press), a collection of interviews with women, under the pen name A.S.A. Harrison.
She worked extremely hard and she was a real artist and a perfectionist and I think that really shows in The Silent Wife.
Harrison was the author of four non-fiction books, including Zodicat Speaks (Viking Penguin), a humorous book on cat astrology, and Revelations: Essays on Striptease and Sexuality with Margaret Dragu (Nightwood Editions). She also collaborated with Elly Roselle on Changing the Mind, Healing the Body, a series of case studies in psychotherapy.
Harrison’s first novel, The Silent Wife, is due for release on June 25, and she was at work on another psychological thriller.
Literary agent Samantha Haywood said Harrison was her first client and described the late author as a dear family friend. Harrison had been working on fiction for a decade or more, and The Silent Wife marked the culmination of all of those efforts, she added.
“I absolutely loved working with her and I’m so proud of her novel and her work as a writer,” Haywood said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “She worked extremely hard and she was a real artist and a perfectionist and I think that really shows in The Silent Wife.”
“It’s so finely written on every level in terms of story, in terms of character, in terms of dialogue, in terms of the craftsmanship of her language. I’m just heartbroken that she won’t be alive to see it come out and to be at her book launch.”
Haywood said that she does take some solace in the fact that Harrison was able to read advance praise of The Silent Wife from several bestselling authors. She also was able to see a starred review from Publishers Weekly, who described the novel as “a smart, nuanced portrait of a dying marriage.”
Harrison is survived by her husband of 30 years, visual artist John Massey.
(Photo credit: John Massey)
06-24-2013 11:45 PM
It’s early September. Jodi Brett is in her kitchen, making dinner. Thanks to the open plan of the condo, she has an unobstructed view through the living room to its east-facing windows and beyond to a vista of lake and sky, cast by the evening light in a uniform blue. A thinly drawn line of a darker hue, the horizon, appears very near at hand, almost touchable. She likes this delineating arc, the feeling it gives her of being encircled. The sense of containment is what she loves most about living here, in her aerie on the twenty-seventh ﬂoor.
At forty-ﬁve, Jodi still sees herself as a young woman. She does not have her eye on the future but lives very much in the moment, keeping her focus on the everyday. She assumes, without having thought about it, that things will go on indeﬁnitely in their imperfect yet entirely acceptable way. In other words, she is deeply unaware that her life is now peaking, that her youthful resilience—which her twenty-year marriage to Todd Gilbert has been slowly eroding—is approaching a ﬁnal stage of disintegration, that her notions about who she is and how she ought to conduct herself are far less stable than she supposes, given that a few short months are all it will take to make a killer out of her.
If you told her this she would not believe you. Murder is barely a word in her vocabulary, a concept without meaning, the subject of stories in the news having to do with people she doesn’t know and will never meet. Domestic violence she ﬁnds especially implausible, that everyday friction in a family setting could escalate to such a degree. There are reasons for this incomprehension, even aside from her own habit of self-control: She is no idealist, believes in taking the bad with the good, does not pick ﬁghts, and is not easily baited.
The dog, a golden retriever with a silky blond coat, sits at her feet as she works at the cutting board. Every now and then she throws him a slice of raw carrot, which he catches in his mouth and joyfully grinds up with his molars. This vegetable toss is a long-standing predinner ritual, one that she and the dog have enjoyed from the time she brought him home as a roly-poly pup to take Todd’s mind oﬀ his yearning for progeny, which sprang up, seemingly overnight, around the time he turned forty. She named the dog Freud in anticipation of the fun she could poke at his namesake, the misogynist whom she was forced to take seriously at university. Freud passing gas, Freud
eating garbage, Freud chasing his tail. The dog is endlessly good-natured and doesn’t mind in the least being an object of fun.
Trimming vegetables and chopping herbs, she throws herself bodily into the work. She likes the intensity of cooking—the readiness of the gas ﬂame, the timer marking oﬀ the minutes, the immediacy of the result. She’s aware of the silence beyond the kitchen, everything rushing to the point in time when she’ll hear his key in the lock, an event that she anticipates with pleasure. She can still feel that making dinner for Todd is an occasion, can still marvel at the stroke of fate that brought him into her life, a matter of rank chance that did not seem to favor a further acquaintance, much less a future of appetizing meals, lovingly prepared.
It came to pass on a rainy morning in spring. Busy with her graduate studies in psychology, waiting tables at night, overworked, exhausted, she was moving house, driving north on State Street in a rental van loaded with her household goods. As she prepared to change lanes from right to left she might have looked over her shoulder or maybe not. She found the van awkward, didn’t have a feel for it, and on top of this her windows were fogged and she’d missed her turn at the last set of lights. Given these conditions she might have been distracted—a question that later came to be much discussed between them. When he clipped her driver’s-side door and spun her into oncoming traﬃc, there was a general honking of horns and squealing of brakes, and before she could pull herself together—before she fully realized that her van had come to a standstill and she was perfectly alright—he was screaming at her through her closed window.
“You crazy bitch. What in God’s name do you think you’re doing? Are you some kind of maniac? Where did you learn to drive? People like you should stay oﬀ the road. Are you going to get out of your car or are you just going to sit there like an imbecile?”
His tirade that day in the rain did not give a favorable impression, but a man who’s been in a car crash is going to be irate even if it’s his own fault, which in this instance it was not, so when he called a few days later to ask her to dinner, she graciously accepted.
He took her to Greektown, where they ate lamb souvlaki washed down with cold retsina. The restaurant was crowded, the tables close together, the lights bright. They found themselves shouting over the din and laughing at their failure to be heard. What conversation they could manage was pared down to succinct phrases like, “The food is good . . . I like it here . . . my windows were fogged . . . if it hadn’t happened I would never have met you.”
She didn’t go out on many bona ﬁde dates. The men she knew from university took her for pizza and beer and counted out their money. They’d meet her at the restaurant scruﬀy and unshaven, still in the clothes they’d worn to class. Whereas Todd had put on a clean shirt, and he’d picked her up, and they’d driven to the restaurant together—and now he was looking after her, reﬁlling her glass and checking on her comfort level. Sitting across from him, she was pleased with what she saw—the way he casually took up space and his air of being in charge. She liked the homey habit he had of wiping his knife on his bread and that he put down his credit card without looking at the bill.
12-03-2013 01:01 AM
Update from the publisher:
A.S.A. Harrison’sTHE SILENT WIFE s was definitely one of the biggest hits of the year, spending its 15th consecutive week on the New York Times bestseller list, and has already been named a “Best Book of 2013” by Publishers Weekly.