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Anne Michaels : Critical Acclaim for Fugitive Pieces


"Fugitive Pieces is a breathtaking work of art - a first novel that catapults Anne Michaels into the front rank of Canadian writers ....Beyond the grief of history, [it] is a book of love: a book to love."
      —Saturday Night

"Anne Michaels, in one sudden stunning gift to literature, has made her memorable mark as a new voice that is clear and true and strikingly beautiful .... This is prose only a poet could create. Luminous, chilling, breathtaking as an unexpected jab, it is filled with images that stun, delight, send the reader back again and again to savor and absorb .... At all times, Michaels' assured voice is never less than remarkable."
      —Ottawa Citizen

"In her handling of scientific and historical information, Michaels can be compared with A.S. Byatt or Michael Ondaatje - almost every fact, however arcane, becomes a metaphor necessary to understand human nature .... [She] has spent almost a decade writing Fugitive Pieces and every single minute seems to have been well used."
      —Globe and Mail

"Exquisitely fabricated, the words so precise, that one stands before it as if it were the Bayeux Tapestry, afraid to touch a single thread lest the entire chronicle unravel."
      —Globe and Mail

"... expansive and metaphorical, tracing shock waves from the war up to the present .... a powerful work."

"... there are times when the novel's reflections become as piercing and unsettling as the deep wisdom of saints and visionaries .... Moments like this - and they are frequent imbue the novel with a rare and strange and sometimes eerie power."
      —Toronto Star

"She has the ability to take a reader's breath away with an image or a turn of phrase."
      —The Gazette, Montreal

"Michaels creates characters that are poetic and unforgettable."

"As well as haunting, descriptive passages of pure motion, Michaels' first novel is rich with 'the insistent nature of the layered past.' [Her] characters and typography breathe, thick with layers and bountiful connections .... A beautiful lyric of prose that will undoubtedly outlast the rest of us."
      —Ottawa Xpress

"Fugitive Pieces is about many things: the redemptive power of poetry, the complexity of a single life, the irrevocable fist-print of brutality on human consciousness. It's about love, both its failure and its success. It's about gut-wrenching events depicted without the slightest trace of sensationalism. But perhaps, most of all, it is about every person's own inevitable connection with humanity....The book is beautifully written, Michaels the poet being everywhere evident, and it is unsettling in the best possible way - like turbulent water disturbing what lies in the depths."
      —Books in Canada

"In Fugitive Pieces, Michaels weaves a compelling tale of shock and loss, of the pervasive clamor of memory and of the possibility, against all odds, of eventual human healing .... Slowly and with perfect precision, Michaels blends the lives of her memorable characters into a graceful and judicious whole .... In the end, Michael's splendidly beautiful book is about the elusive nature of truth and about how the burdens of the past remain to fetter the future .... Fugitive Pieces is a novel of such rare quality that it is impossible to assess its merits. It stands alone, a stunning testament to the shaping bonds of memory and of history, and its appearance this spring is a Canadian publishing event of unique importance. It is seldom that a novel of such pure, poetic lyricism has been combined with a text of such astonishing strength."
      — London Free Press

"Without doubt, Fugitive Pieces is memorable for the richness of its diction .... But her use of language contains nothing that fails to contribute to the gradual deepening of the novel. It is a complex and compelling work concerned with differing versions of love and history, death and memory .... "The little seams of tragedy, cruelty and sadness are always unexpected, as if to show the randomness that makes evil so wicked .... Michaels has produced a memorable work about the human spirit."
      —Douglas Fetherling, The New Brunswick Reader

"Extraordinary .... Michaels explores the urgent claims of the past on the present, how one can become 'undone by a smell, a word, a photo of a mountain of shoes.' And the Toronto-based author's arresting, image-laden prose and wide-ranging knowledge of everything from botany to Brahms give the novel a startling originality .... Michaels hasdug deep and come up with treasure."
      — Maclean's (review)

"Awe-inspiring, vast, precise in detail .... More remarkable than Michaels's prose poetry (for the language is often as precisely clear and sharp as crystal) is her startling ability to write the shape of emotion. There is a mature sensibility at work here, a rare wisdomabout humanity .... this is a literary coup. An exceptional novel ...."
      —Halifax Daily News

"... poetic and a pleasure to read: its language is precise, densely packed with meaning and metaphor, images and implications. It requires a slow, thoughtful read .... This is a haunting story at once about politics, genocide, war and individuals trying to overcome their tragic memories."
      —Winnipeg Free Press

"Her descriptions of her characters' engagements with physics, with salt, with the expeditions to the Antarctic, all the while straining after lost family and explanations for the inexplicable that will nonetheless make the soul wiser, are uncanny in their powers of evocation. The novel very often feels like a long, sensuous, even erotic, poem."
      —Saskatoon StarPhoenix

"What is astonishing about this book is its poetic imagery, sense of place and delineation of memorable characters .... those in search of a reading experience of rare power and beauty will cherish Fugitive Pieces."
      —Canadian Jewish News

"Fugitive Pieces is absolutely beautiful .... Like Jane Urquhart and David Malouf, Michaels infuses her writing with an intense lyricism and a panoramic view of history .... Fugitive Pieces exquisitely captures the experiences of trauma and healing. It shows how people carefully build bridges from a painful past to a hopeful future, through words, memories and love. Reading this profound, graceful book is an unforgettable emotional and esthetic experience."
      —Kingston Whig-Standard

"[an] exquisitely, almost painfully, beautiful novel .... Michaels has written a remarkable first novel, made doubly remarkable by the maturity of voice and sureness of touch."
      —Calgary Herald

"It's hard to believe this wonderful book is a first novel ....Like the earth, this is a multi-layered book, one to remember and read again and again."
      —Kitchener- Waterloo Record

"... Fugitive Pieces deserves every success it will surely earn. A commonwealth of image and poetics, it is one of the most important novels to come out of this country."
      —Peter Oliva, Calgary Herald

Canadian Booksellers:

"Anne Michaels' Fugitive Pieces is not just a poet's novel, or anything else. It is truly one of the most astonishing books I have ever read. It is magnificent. To call it fiction is to limit it - it is LITERATURE. It is ART. You must never allow it to go out of print. I believe you have a moral obligation to keep this book alive for the ages. Fugitive Pieces makes me regret selling Writers & Co. as I will be denied the opportunity of recommending it to many people. It is truly breathtaking in its morality and poetry. Wow."
      —Irene McGuire, former bookseller, Writers & Co. Toronto, Ontario (from a letter to editor Ellen Seligman at McClelland & Stewart.)

"There is so much to praise in this breathtaking writing. Michaels, who has learned the lessons of poetry well, somehow manages to be both economical and sweeping at the same time. Wide swaths of time and landscape are laid bare, coinpletely, with never an extraneous word. The synthesis of information is astonishing. Geology and history, botany and philosophy are expertly folded into the narrative, and never rebuke her for just plain showing off. There is a density of image that is never oppressive but serves only to make you read slowly and carefully. The only fear is that you might thiss something. It is, when all is said and done, a novel of history and ideas that is in some ways a gloriously extended poem. And it is evidence that one of the defining events of our century - the Holocaust, about which so much has been said and written, about which so much is known - belongs, not just anecdotally but in a primary way, to the minds and imaginations of artists born a generation and a continent away. We continue to make the history that was made for us, and in this case it has been reforged brilliantly and beautifully."
      — from a review by Bill Richardson in The New Reader, put out by Duthie Books, Vancouver, B.C.'s largest independent

"As booksellers we're quite accustomed - even amused - to hear one author after another acclaimed as the next new talent. For many authors and their publishers life is felt as an advertised trajectory of career moves. And one season's bright book inevitably gives way to the next, just as bright...It is exceedingly rare however to read a novel as accomplished as Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels. Fugitive Pieces again strongly reminds us why people write novels, why people should read them. The quality of the writing, the depth and intelligence of the narrative, the carefully asymmetrical structure, the absolute and integral humanity of this novel - here is the real thing, literature.... It has been many years indeed since I was so impressed by a novel. And Fugitive Pieces is a novel which booksellers and readers will keenly recommend for years and years to come."
      — Richard Bachmann, Owner A Different Drummer Books Burlington, Ontario

"I can't remember the last time a book so impressed me. I have never written a 'fan letter' before, but this book sent me reeling toward the post office. Congratulations go to Anne Michaels and M&S for producing such a compelling, poetic, elegant, mythic novel. Michaels' ability to move from Poland to Greece to Canada to Greece with such narrative fluidity is truly inspiring. There are altogether too many good things here, besides the unforgettable characters, Toronto's re-imagined geological landscape, a life-long quest to understand one moment in time, a poetic meditation on memory, and an entire invented world of authors, translations, and bookish pursuits. I am far past jealousy with this novel; I'm making everyone read it. I know it's only July (and the year is still young) but I wouldn't be surprised if this book wins every major award in Canada. No, I will go further still: I sincerely hope M&S submits her book to the Booker committee. Fugitive Pieces deserves every accolade it will surely find."
      —Peter Oliva, Co-owner' Pages on Kensington Calgary, Alberta

"This is one of the finest novels I've read in more than ten years. The language is incandescent and I feel a reverence for this book I find difficult to articulate."
      —Mary Jo Anderson, Frog Hollow Books Halifax, Nova Scotia

"Fugitive Pieces has been our most satisfying success this year. A meditation on loyalty, memory, and history, it's also the most carefully crafted and beautifully written novel I've read in years. Along with The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje, it seems assured a permanent place in Canadian literature."
      —Michael Nicholson, a manager at one of the Lichtman's chain stores in Toronto

From Chapters, which has absorbed Smiths and Coles:

"This exquisitely written novel is alive with the humanity of two people who find a way to mend the loss ripped from them by the incomprehensible horror of the Second World War. You will remember the people you meet in the world Anne Michaels has created for a long time to come."
      —David Hainline, Vice-President, Marketing & Merchandising

"Fugitive Pieces lingers long after the last page is turned. Anne Michaels' language is so beautiful, her images so evocative, that I was compelled to read on even during the most disturbing passages."
      — Helena Aalto, Director of Marketing

"From the shocking beginning to the poetic conclusion, Fugitive Pieces is a beautiful, haunting book. The characters live on long after the book has been put back on the shelf; the true test of a great book."
      —Judith Chant, Buyer


"Searing the mind with stunning images while seducing with radiant prose. This brilliant first novel is a story of damaged lives and the indesmactibility of the human spirit .... incandescent prose, dark and tender and poetically lyrical. A bestseller in Canada, "the novel will make readers yearn to share it with others, to read sentences and entire passages aloud, to debate its message, to acknowledge its wisdom."
      —Publishers Weekly

"A moving tale of survival becomes a grave and stately hymn to the revivifying qualities of language and learning in this impressive debut by a Canadian poet .... A stunning work, quite beautifully written, and a lovely homage to the imperiled yet indomitable culture and individuals it celebrates."
      —Kirkus Review

"Her prose does not race; it hovers, insinuating its way in and around timeless mysteries. Jakob Beer never lived, but thanks to Michaels, he does now."

"Anne Michaels has created a world of stunning, heartbreaking clarity where even the unspeakable is captured in the light-web of her words. She is a superb poet, a breathstopping storyteller."
      — Cristina Garcia

"Fugitive Pieces is an utterly mesmerizing novel told from the core of a poet's soul focusing upon our very prosaic world. It does what all great novels do: illumine through the lights of language and intelligence the heart of a hitherto hidden human landscape."
      —Chaim Potok


"... the most astonishing first novel I have read in over 20 years of publishing fiction."
      — Liz Calder, Bloomsbury Publishingg CLI.K.)

"... Fugitive Pieces is the most important book I have read for 40 years."
      —John Berger, The Observer (U.K.)

"Michaels has written a dense, sensual novel that layers personal history like strata of rock: what comes after cannot stand without what came before .... This is a novel to lose yourself in; let the language pour over you, depositing its richness like waves lapping sand onto a beach."
      —The Times, London

"Reading Fugitive Pieces, however, an unprecedented imaginative creation takes shape before your eyes .... this is a book to read many times. I simply can't imagine a better novel being published this year."
      —The Independent

"This is a thoughtful and ambitious novel. I suspect it may also be a great one."
      —Daily Telegraph

"A very impressive debut indeed. Michaels not only writes with a poet's eye... she also evokes those invisib1e threads of feeling which run through the characters' lives and connect them to their past."
      —Sunday Telegraph

"Clever, stark, horrifying, poignant, deeply affecting .... "
      —Literary Review

"Michaels's prose is powerful and often very beautiful, evoking the landscapes. and sorrows of Greece and Canada, and conjuring the images which rise "like bruises" in her protagonists."
      —Times Literary Supplement

"Like an alchemist searching for the ultimate elixir, Michaels spent almost a decade distilling her ideas into words of pure gold. It is hard to see where it could be improved. Undoubtedly the book will be a best-seller here as it was in Canada,. and deservedly so. Read it and you will find yourself promising never to take life for granted again."
      —Scotland on Sunday


"Rich in imagery with breathtaking metaphors and with all the necessary pathos, it has told the life of a Holocaust victim and, with it, the tale is enriched with poetic truth."
      —Der Spiegel

"Extraordinary debut novel."
      —Frankfurter Rundschau

"A stylistic masterpiece."

Source: McClelland & Stewart

Anne Michaels's works copyright © to the author.

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