“Owen Toews has authored in Island Falls one of the coolest books I’ve read in a long time.”
A student becomes intrigued by a mysterious friend whose intimate relationship with the history of the mill town where he grew up informs his politics and enigmatic writing. With curiosity that often breaches the private boundaries of friendship, the student’s warm and comedic accounts repeatedly shift to a narrative space where the harsh conditions, operations, and confines of the residents of the mill town are explored in clinical detail.
“With charm, wit, intelligence, but also keen observation, literary sparkle, and almost too-relatable characters, Owen Toews has authored in Island Falls one of the coolest books I’ve read in a long time. A quirky and curious exploration of human emotion, relationship, shortcoming, and success, this book pushes its readers’ understanding of form, genre, narrative, and characterization. At moments Toews’ speaker forced me to stop, consider how and why we write, but also how and why we read, record, notice, and (co-)exist. This debut novel is not to be missed, but should be held close and remembered as an adept offering by a writer who will make an indelible and continued mark on the literary world as we go forward.” — Jenny Heijun Wills, author of Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related
“What is this strange document? An essay, a lush story, a sort-of-report, an anatomy of evil? Here, Owen Toews flips the colonial tapestry and begins to separate the threads — the group homes, company towns, unmarked graves and poisoned rivers that make up the everyplace of Island Falls. The result is an essential and beguiling counterhistory of life on this continent.” — Ben Robinson, author of The Book of Benjamin