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Joan Thomas
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Joan Thomas is the Governor General's Award winning author of Wild Hope, Five Wives and three other novels. She lives in Winnipeg.
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This is a gallery of work specially created for #ThinAir2023. Spend time with writers you love, and discover some new favourites! Ceci est une galerie de travaux spécialement créée pour #ThinAir2023. Passez du temps avec des écrivains que vous aimez et découvrez de nouveaux favoris!

Joan Thomas’s fifth novel, Wild Hope, is a page-turning contemporary story about art, food, and the politics of wealth. Like Joan’s previous works, it’s an intimate depiction of what it is to live in times of rapid social change.

Joan’s fourth novel, Five Wives won the 2019 Governor General’s Award for Fiction. Described by the Globe and Mail as “brilliant, eloquent, curious, far-seeing,” it is an immersive dive into a real event, the ill-fated attempt by five American families to move into the territory of the reclusive Waorani people in Ecuador in 1956. In 2014, The Opening Sky, a contemporary novel about a family navigating a crisis, won the 2014 McNally Robinson Prize and was a finalist for the Governor Generals Award. Curiosity, based on the life of the preDarwinist fossilist Mary Anning, was nominated for the 2010 Giller Prize and the IMPAC Dublin Award. Reading by Lightning, set in World War 2, won the 2008 Amazon Prize and a Commonwealth Prize.

Joan lives in Winnipeg. Before beginning to write fiction, she was a longtime book reviewer for national publications. In 2014, Joan was awarded the Writers Trust of Canada Engel Findley Award for mid-career achievement.

Interview / Entrevue

Oh, I wish. I grew up in a town with no library or bookstore, so my only salacious reading options were the books my mother hid from me. She kept them on the top shelf of her closet. The two I recall best are Barberry Bush, a novel about a woman in love with someone not her husband, and a medical encyclopedia with astonishing coloured photos of . . . well, I’ll leave that with you.

Currently, I love this line from Rivka Galchen’s Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch. “You are not a child, you must be your own source of light.” I picked it for the epigraph to Wild Hope.

When I’m not writing, I aspire to keep my desk under control. Every few weeks, I shove everything into a pile, go through it, and make a fresh To Do list. When I’m working hard on a novel, I let things pile up because bare and tidy surfaces somehow seem to represent an empty mind, and that makes me nervous.

Melting polar ice caps. Etc.

To be a novelist. Well, it was a secret for a very long time, even from myself.

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