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.

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. He has been page editor of The Telegram in St. John’s, as well as a columnist and magazine writer. He lives in St. John’s with is family, and divides his days between the newspaper and his other writing.


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

“No one charts the geography of loneliness better than Russell Wangersky. Writing with clarity and precision, he reveals lives lived under a slow compression, of tension that demands release. At turns lyrical, wry, darkly comedic, but always heartfelt, Wangersky’s collection takes the short story to new heights of grace and skill.” — Will Ferguson, author of 419

“Russell Wangersky has mastered the short story. The pieces in this collection are tender, violent, humorous, sorrowful, and sexy — sometimes all at the same time. In its exploration of human betrayal and human connection, The Path of Most Resistance captures the raw physical energy that simmers just below the surface of everyday life. This collection is a true gift from one of Canada’s most talented writers of short fiction.” — Angie Abdou, author of Between

“Vivid images of ordinary working life are galvanized into beauty and power in these stories that turn on hard-fought, hard-won understanding. Russell Wangersky’s steady faith in human nature yields honest, bedrock prose veined with surprising gleams of love and pain.” – Marina Endicott, author of Close to Hugh

“Russell Wangersky affirms his position as one of the finest short-story writers currently working in this country . . . Wangersky has delivered a collection unified in its quality, but eclectic and surprising in the breadth of its styles, subjects, and techniques.” — Quill and Quire


Walt (House of Anansi, 2014)

A dark new psychological thriller. French: Place des Editeurs; German: Droemer.

Winner of the CBC Bookie Award for Best Thriller.

The Glass Harmonica (Thomas Allen, 2010)

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.

2010 BMO Winterset Award


Whirl Away
(originally Thomas Allen Publishers, 2012, now owned by Dundurn)

Winner, 2013 Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award
Finalist, 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize
Finalist, 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

“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.


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


 “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