A Globe and Mail Best Book, shortlisted for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award.
Stay the film now available on iTunes, Netflix and on-demand cable.
Reviews of Stay
Hunter’s first novel, Stay, is ambitious. In it, she tackles the theme of time and all its implications — ever-changing and moving, elastic and stiff. She plunges us through history to the present and back again with ease. Although this is her first novel, last year Hunter published a book of short fiction and a book of poetry, both of which were nominated for several awards, the poetry book winning the Gerald Lampert Award in 2002. She has been called a ‘Genuine ambidexter, equally gifted in fiction and poetry.’ And now, if I can add to that, in the novel form as well…
–– The Globe and Mail
Hunter, a Vancouverite who has lived in Ireland, has been lavishly praised for her short stories and poems, but what really distinguished her is her fearlessness. Here she’s brave enough to wade into the stinking mess of the past, the bodies that won’t stay buried, and all the emotional hauntings that make us so fearfully human… Hunter has created a redolent, peat-reeking sense of Ireland here, mournful but sometimes blackly hilarious… the smell of life if what makes Stay so compelling.
–– The Vancouver Sun
Stay’s rigorous examination of the relationship between colonialism, globalization, and identity places it in the company of Michael Ondaatje and other postcolonial writers of the last decade… The intertwining stories play out against the canvas of postmodern Ireland, its traditional identity and way of life transformed by aburgeoning tourist trade, a Gaelic TV network, the Irish kitsch industry, and the arrival of the euro. Hunter is a talented cultural archeologist, carefully recording the myriad ways in which globalization is transforming Irish history and society into a kind of theme park for both tourists and locals. Stay gives a dark and sophisticated look at these characters as friends and lovers, parents and children, suggesting along the way that the violent human desire to control and colonize, even on the most personal levels, hasn’t changed much since the bog people’s era. Yet the novel refuses to judge or stereotype its flawed but ultimately sympathetic characters, and it ends (almost against its better judgment) on a note of hope. Controlled, smart, and humane, Stay is an impressive first novel.
–– The Quill and Quire
Stay, by Aislinn Hunter, has an exceptional sense of place. With wonderful examples of sight, sound, taste, touch and smell, Hunter captures rural Ireland…
–– Books in Canada
What’s Left Us is a stunning fiction debut by one of the most promising new writers in Canada. The novella and stories in these pages startle and engage the reader with their humour, warmth and grace. The novella traces one week in the life of a young, unmarried Irish woman about to give birth. The heroine is a hip, independent woman who muses on memory, love, loss and inheritance in a clever, wry and moving way. The other stories are set in Dublin, the U.K., Vancouver and Ontario and continue Hunter’s funny and insightful exploration of quirky characters and situations. What’s Left Us offers us exacting and exciting words by a prodigiously talented young writer.
What’s Left Us is the debut work (a novella and short story collection) of B.C. writer Aislinn Hunter. It touches the quick of yearning and loss in the unnerving after-hours of love, detailing the emotional remainder in funny, wistful, canny prose.
The novella recounts the quest undertaken by a young London bookseller, Emma, pregnant by a married man. Fatherless herself and about to give birth to a fatherless child, Emma makes an eleventh-hour trip to the family archive in Ireland in a fact-finding mission about love. Intellectually disposed to evidence and inventories, Emma moves through the veritable museum of herself to discover the broad currents of love and loss in her family’s history. Hunter narrates Emma’s shoring-up of her legacy in forty-two short pieces which come across alternately as brief pangs and ordered items, reflecting with subtle discipline the emotional and intellectual labour of Emma’s preparation for childbirth.
The collection’s six short stories convey a poignant arbitrariness in the way lives converge, diverge and mean. An unworldly porn cinema clerk (“Sophie believed she had been called by the Divine to work at the Ormond Quay Triple X Cinema. First of all, she was good with numbers”) encounters a young seminarian. The pair are brought into glancing and, alternately, profound contact by virtue of their “callings” in two versions of an event. A mother and daughter experience their love for and essential strangeness from one another through their fatigued preoccupation with their mentally ill son and brother. A woman’s heavy grief over the death of a sibling (expressed as a recurring vision of a banshee) occludes other relationships. Hunter balances formal variety (including a second-person “you” narration, an occasionally expressionistic element, and a contemporary hagiography) with a remarkably discreet authorial presence. What’s Left Us is humane and exquisite.