“Choosing a subject for a novel is a bit like falling in love and deciding to commit to someone as a partner,” says Joan Thomas. “There may be elements of reason in it, but fundamentally, it’s not a reasoned thing.”
The author of three novels—each very different from the last—Joan is as admired for her precise attentiveness to craft as she is for her rich and believable characters.
Her début, Reading by Lightning, won the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book (Canada and the Caribbean) and the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, and was nominated for the International IMPAC-Dublin Literary Award. Her follow-up, the intricate and compelling historical novel, Curiosity, was named a Quill & Quire Book of the Year and was nominated for the ScotiaBank Giller Prize, amongst numerous other award nominations.
Joan’s third book, a contemporary family story called The Opening Sky, won the McNally Robinson Prize for Book of the Year, a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, and a “Best Book of 2014” on CBC Books, Vancouver Sun, Winnipeg Free Press, and Metronews lists.
“Both in her Winnipeg setting and the depiction of complex family relationships, she channels the spirit of Carol Shields. . . . Compelling . . . evocative,” says the Globe and Mail. The Winnipeg Review writes, “Thomas has situated herself as a master of dialogue.”
Recently, Joan won the prestigious Engel/Findley Award from the Writers Trust for a writer in mid-career. The jury’s citation singled her out for her “profound understanding of the human condition,” her “limpid and sensual prose,” and her seamless blend of historical fact and fiction.
A long-time contributing reviewer for the Globe and Mail, Joan lives with her husband in Winnipeg. This is her second appearance at Kingston WritersFest.