Kathleen Winter

Kathleen Winter is the author of a novella and two books of non-fiction. Her first collection of short stories, boYs (Biblioasis, 2006) was the winner of both the Winterset Award and the 2006 Metcalfe-Rooke Award.

In 2011 she published her first full-length novel, Annabel, which has been sold in 15 countries and received major international recognition, including nominations for The Orange Prize (UK), The Scotiabank Giller Prize, The Governor General’s Literary Award and the Writer’s Trust Prize.  In 2014 she created an inspirational travel memoir, Boundless, which was nominated for the RBC Taylor Prize, the Hilary Westin Prize for Nonfiction and the Mavis Gallant Prize.  In the same year she published her second collection of stories, The Freedom in American Songs, which was chosen as a Globe & Mail Top 100 Book of the year.

Winter’s work has appeared in literary journals from coast-to-coast.  She lives and works in Montreal, Quebec.

Photo credit: Roger LeMoyne

Forthcoming: Wintersong (World English, Random House Canada, 2021)

Lost in September (Random House Canada, August 2017)

Finalist for the 2017 Governor General’s Award for Fiction
Finalist for the 2017 Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction

Long-awaited, thrilling new fiction from Kathleen Winter, whose previous novel Annabel was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller, Governor General’s Award, Writers’ Trust and Orange prizes, was a Globe and Mail “Best Book” and a New York Times “Notable,” and was a #1 bestselling Canada Reads selection.

From one of Canada’s most exciting writers comes a gripping, compassionate and stunning novel that overturns and rewrites history. Enter the world of Jimmy–a tall, red-haired, homeless thirty-something ex-soldier, battered by PTSD–as he camps out on the streets of modern-day Montreal, trying to remember and reclaim his youth. While his past is something of an enigma, even to himself, the young man bears a striking resemblance to General James Wolfe, “Conqueror of Canada” and “Hero of Quebec,” who died on the Plains of Abraham in 1759.

As a young soldier in his twenties, the historical James Wolfe (1727-1759) was granted a short and much longed-for leave to travel to Paris to study poetry, music and dance–three of his passions. But in that very year, 1752, the British Empire abandoned the Julian calendar for the Gregorian, and every citizen of England lost eleven days: September 2 was followed by September 14. These lost eleven days happened to occur during the period that Wolfe had been granted for his leave. Despondent and bitter, he never got the chance to explore his artistic bent, and seven short years later, on the anniversary of this foreshortened leave, he died on the Plains of Abraham.

Now, James is getting his eleven days back . . . but instead of the salons of 18th century Paris, he’s wandering the streets of present-day Montreal and Quebec City, not as “the Hero of Quebec” but as a damaged war veteran wracked with anguish. Much like George Saunders in Lincoln in the Bardo, award-winning author Kathleen Winter takes a brief, intensely personal incident in the life of a famous historical figure, and using her incomparable gifts as a fiction writer, powerfully reimagines him. Here is a wrenching, unforgettable portrait–like none you have ever seen or read–of one of the most well-known figures in Canadian history.

“Kathleen Winter’s Lost in September is evocative, humane and totally original. . . . [A] novel of suspense and lyricism. . . . Winter’s writing is undeniably elegant: undulating with recurring motifs of water and rivers, blindness and vision, a painterly attention to detail involving primary coloured figures that lend more elemental power to the prose. . . . Wolfe’s stubbornness and tenderness, his love of dogs and comrades, of art and his mother, reveal a multidimensional person haunted by the past, a hope not to lose his ‘humanity’ despite years of killing. And however misty or complex its forces, Lost in September coalesces into a touching portrait of a broken man, as well as a considerable addition to the literature of war, of trauma and recovery. It’s energized by a deep compassion for our drive to heal and remember, even in the shadow of unimaginable bloodshed: an afterworld where time ceases to make sense, and regrets can last a lifetime—and some, perhaps, might even last forever.” —The Globe and MailKathleen Winter returns to the upper echelons of CanLit with her audacious new novel, Lost in September. A heartfelt portrait of Jimmy, an ex-soldier battling PTSD, it’s also a cryptic ghost story. . . It’s to Winter’s credit that [hints about Wolfe] are subtle and incremental, just enough to keep the reader guessing at the relationship between James and Jimmy through to the novel’s finale. . . . In the end, the identity of our hero is perhaps less important than the themes of trauma, sacrifice, and intimacy which Winter so richly explores. . . . [I]t’s a book that uses a wealth of archival material to its advantage. As readers, we are tasked with navigating the mysterious heart of this brooding soldier, and the rich trove of historical letters serve as able way-finding guides.” —Trevor Corkum, author of The Electric Boy, Toronto Star“[F]unny, captivating, completely eccentric and totally wonderful.” —Parry Sound North Star
WKBoundlessPBcov Boundless A brilliant new narrative from the bestselling author of Annabel. Boundless is documents Winter’s physical and spiritual voyage from Toronto to Greenland then across Baffin Bay and into the Northwest Passage, following Franklin’s exact route.  (Canada: House of Anansi, 2014; UK: Jonathan Cape, 2015; US: Counterpoint, 2015 Germany: btb; French (ex Canada): Christian Bourgois Editeur; French (Canada): Les éditions du Boreal)

Finalist – Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, RBC Taylor Prize for Nonfiction, and Mavis Gallant Prize for Nonfiction

Booklist –Best of the Year 2015, PWStarred review, KirkusStarred review

AnnabelAnnabel An evocative debut novel about a hermaphrodite child born in a remote Labradour outport community.

Finalist, Canada Reads 2014
Best Fiction of 2011 list, Kirkus Reviews
Longlist, International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, 2012
Shortlist, 2011 Orange Prize (UK) Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award, 2011 Finalist, Ontario Library Association (OLA) 2011 Forest of Reading Evergreen Award
Finalist, 35th Annual First Novel Award, Amazon.ca
Indie Lit Awards 2010, GLTB category #1 National Bestseller, Macleans
Finalist, 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize
Finalist, 2010 Rogers Writers’ Trust Prize
Finalist, 2010 Governor General’s Literary Award
NewYork Times Editor’s Choice
Oprah Magazine, Top Books to Watch
Globe & Mail Top 100 Book
Quill & Quire Best Book
Amazon.ca Best Book

World Rights Available Ex:Canada (English): House of Anansi; UK (incl. Aus/NZ): Jonathan Cape; US (English): Grove Atlantic; Brazil: Novo Fronteira; China (simplified rights): Beijing Green Beans Books Company; China (complex rights): Ten Points Publishing;  France (ex. Quebec): Editions Christian Bourgois; Germany: btb (Random House); Hebrew: Matar Publishing House; Italy: Bompiani; Netherlands: The House of Books; Norway: Forlaget Oktober; Portugal: ASA Editores; Quebec: Editions Du Boreal; Romania: Polirom; Spain (including Basque edition): Erein Argitaletxea; Sweden: Kabusa; Audio, North America: Recorded Books.


“Kathleen Winter’s novel, Annabel, is absolutely riveting from the very first page. At its most basic, Annabel is the story of a hermaphrodite child raised in Labrador. It is about the struggle of genders within one child, and how that struggle makes the child another thing entirely, though effectively about any kind of suppression. Its language is breathtaking and her subject is thrilling because – hard to manage these days – it is so very new. I have friends I worry about handing this novel to, because of its subversive, but beautiful, power.”
– Globe & Mail

“Annabel is a stunning and stirring debut that signals the long-overdue arrival of a literary talent.” – Halifax Chronicle Herald
“This is a beautiful book, lyrical and compelling in its quiet way. ” – National Post

“Winter possesses a rare blend of lyrical brilliance, descriptive power and psychological and philosophical insight. This book announces the arrival of a major writer.” – Kirkus Reviews

“[An] utterly original debut novel…a haunting story of family, identity, and the universal yearning to belong.” – O, The Oprah Magazine
“Her lyrical voice and her crystalline landscape are enchanting.”  – The New Yorker

A truly extraordinary and unforgettable first novel: assured, brilliantly written and heartbreakingly beautiful. – Joseph O’Connor, author of Ghost Light

“Annabel is a mature and beautifully-crafted debut, full of savagely clear-eyed observation and startling compassion.” – A.L. Kennedy, author of What Becomes