Russell Wangersky

Russell Wangersky

Russell Wangersky’s Burning Down the House, was the winner of the 2009 BC National Non-Fiction Prize, the Rogers Cable Non-fiction Prize (NL) and the Edna Staebler Award for Non-Fiction.  It was also chosen as a Top 100 Books of 2008 by The Globe & Mail, and was shortlisted for the 2008 Writers Trust Award.  Wangersky’s first short story collection, The Hour of Bad Decisions, was longlisted for the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize and shortlisted for the 2006 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize.  His second collection, Whirl Away, won the 2013 Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award and was shortlisted for the 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the BMO Winterset Prize. He is also the author of one novel, The Glass Harmonica, and a profile of the political career of former Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams.  His newest novel, Walt, was released in the fall of 2014 and won the CBC Bookie Award.

Wangersky lives and works in St. John’s, Newfoundland where he is TransContinental Media’s Atlantic regional columnist. For this work he has won the 2011 National Newspaper Award (NNA) for editorial writing.

Russell Wangersky was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada, where his father was a professor of oceanography at Dalhousie University and his mother, a marine biologist.  He attended Acadia University, choosing philosophy over the family tradition of science, and edited the university’s literary magazine, Alpha. He also signed up, during those university years, to be a volunteer firefighter in Wolfville, NS, the inspiration for his award-winning memoir.

He has since worked as a researcher in the Queen’s Park bureau of Southam News, spent five years  as a reporter at the Sunday Express and five years at CBC Television. In 2002, Russell became The Telegram’s editor.  He lives in St. John’s with is family, and divides his days between the newspaper and his other writing.

Forthcoming

The Path of Most Resistance (stories) (House of Anansi, 2016)

Fiction

Walt

A dark new psychological thriller.  (Canada: House of Anansi (2014); French: Place des Editeurs; German: Droemer.  Winner of the CBC Bookie Award for Best Thriller.

The Glass Harmonica

After Keith O’Reilly witnesses the murder of his neighbour by a pizza delivery man one night during a snowstorm, a unique series of stories begins to unfold.(Thomas Allen, 2010) 2010 BMO Winterset Award

Collections

Whirl Away You turn towards what you know, sometimes without ever realizing that your greatest comfort can also be your greatest flaw. A collection of brilliant stories.
(originally Thomas Allen Publishers, 2012, now owned by Dundurn)
Winner, 2013 Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award
Shortlist, 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize
Shortlist, BMO Winterset Prize
Top 100 Book, Globe & Mail 2012″Whirl Away is a persuasive, artful collection and Wangersky portrays all manner of characters with vividness and delicacy. There’s a lyricism in the language that elevates many of these tales to an almost allegorical level, allowing room to move around inside them. The gothic of Flannery O’Connor comes to mind but without that brutal struggle for grace – with Wangersky, grace naturally extends from a thoughtfulness about what has happened. In this way grace attends with a reconsideration of the past, perhaps by even seeing the past in a new way.”
– National Post”Like Cheever or Munro, Russell Wangersky delves stealthily into disquieting corners of the domestic sphere, his stories dissecting lives when they are fracturing, lives at stress points. With sympathy for both males and females, Whirl Away explores romance, disillusionment, money worries, infidelity, layoffs and tipping points, quiet conflicts like butter simmering on a stove and about to angrily turn colour and burn.”
– The Globe and Mail

“What stands out, as always with a Wangersky book, is his dazzling diction. He is, quite simply, one of the finest sentence-level writers in CanLit.”
– Salty Ink

“Whirl Away is a marvelous collection of stories. Each story stands starkly and wonderfully alone. Some of them carry a very quick thump; others have the scope, the extra pages that allow a glimpse at longer lives. Regrets, mistakes, accidents – the stories are full of them and their consequences. They are full of people trying to cope, trying to change, trying to live. They are stories of lives close to breaking, written with great confidence and skill.” – 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize jury

The Hour of Bad Decisions (Coteau Books, 2006) Top 100 books, The Globe and Mail Top 100 books, The Toronto Star Shortlist, Commonweath Writers Prize Shortlist, Danuta Gleed Literary Award, 2007 Writers Union of Canada Shortlist, Excellence in Writing, Winterset Award Shortlist, Book of the Year Short Stories, ForeWord Magazine Nominated, 2007 ReLit Award Shortlist, Saskatchewan Book Awards Nominated, Scotiabank Giller Prize Longlist.

Non-Fiction

Danny Williams A profile of the political career of former Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams.
(Breakwater Books, 2011)
Burning Down the House Fighting Fires and Losing Myself
(Thomas Allen Publishers, 2008)2009 Newfoundland and Labrador Book Awards,  Rogers Non-fiction Prize,  British Columbia’s National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction 2009,  Shortlist, Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize, 2008

Selected Praise

For Burning Down the House “Burning Down the House is such a raw book. In this haunting meditation on fate and chance, he literally takes you there.”
-The Globe and Mail”This is not the tabloid heroism of the breathless headlines. Wangersky handles these scenes with a terse candour, balancing an in-the-moment experiential quality with a keen eye for detail. Wangersky documents his steady spiral into post-traumatic stress disorder with a frankness that is at once brutal and emotionally devastating. The sad irony for Wangersky and his colleagues in the firehall is that such sacrifices make the heroism that much more significant.”
-National Post
For The Hour of Bad Decisions “It’s as if the wickedly observant Alice Munro and the bawdy Al Purdy had produced a love child, by way of a gritty newsroom…”
– Toronto Star