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Polar Vortex by Shani Mootoo


Polar Vortex by Shani Mootoo


Some secrets never die…

Priya and Alexandra have moved from the city to a picturesque Countryside town. What Alex doesn’t know is that, in moving, Priya is running from her past—from a fraught relationship with an old friend, Prakash, who pursued her for many years, both online and off. Time has passed, however, and Priya, confident that her ties to Prakash have been successfully severed, decides it’s once more safe to establish an online presence. In no time, Prakash finds Priya and contacts her. Impulsively, inexplicably, Priya invites him to visit her and Alex in the country, without ever having come clean with Alex about their relationship—or its tumultuous end. Prakash’s reentry into Priya’s life reveals cracks in her and Alex’s relationship and brings into question Priya’s true intentions.

Are we ever free from our pasts? Can we ever truly know the people we are closest to? Seductive and tension-filled, Polar Vortex is a story of secrets, deceptions, and revenge.

Trade Paperback
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(In stock)
EPub EBook
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EPDF + Print Bundle
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EPub + Print Bundle
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Praise for Polar Vortex:

“How to know the shifting pieces of ourselves, how to acknowledge contradictory desires, as we are pulled into the maelstrom of desire and memory? Shani Mootoo’s intimate new novel suspends us in the vortex between acts of betrayal and acts of love. It is a powerfully unsettling work from a brilliant artist.”
—Madeleine Thien, Scotiabank Giller Prize winning author of Do Not Say We Have Nothing

“The past isn’t even past—and the present is tense with conflicting desires and untold stories. What brings clarity to this setting is Shani Mootoo’s limpid prose, clean and bracing. Polar Vortex is an honest, but also moving, exploration of true intimacy.”
—Amitava Kumar, author of Immigrant, Montana

“What a gorgeous and thrilling novel. Beautifully crafted, with perfect form and icy-clear tone—Shani Mootoo held me under her spell until the shock and release of the last page!”
—Sarah Selecky, author of Radiant Shimmering Light

“Shani Mootoo’s Polar Vortex is a powerful, fraught, and inventive exploration of the impossibility of ever really knowing the people we come to love. Told in urgent, incandescent prose and effortlessly spinning in and out of time, the book is an intimate and starkly honest examination of the complexities of sexual identity, lust, shame, regret, and how we, no matter where we come from or how we identify, are at our most complicated when it comes to the whims and failings of the human heart.” —Joe Meno, author of Marvel and a Wonder

Press Coverage:

Winter Books Preview: 36 Reads to Get You Through Till Spring —Becky Toyne, The Globe and Mail

Most Anticipated: Spring 2020 Fiction Preview —49th Shelf

47 works of Canadian Fiction to Watch for in Spring 2020 —CBC Books

Read an Excerpt from Polar Vortex Rungh

How a Move from Toronto to Prince Edward County Sparked Writer Shani Mootoo’s #MeToo Novel Toronto Star

Pickle Me This: Books on the Radio Kerry Clare, CBC’s Ontario Morning

Polar Vortex becomes a book about truth and memory, about how little we know each other, and ourselves. Strange, ominous, haunting, it’s a propulsive read and a deliciously unsettling one.” Kerry Clare, Pickle Me This

Read an Excerpt from Polar Vortex by Shani Mootoo Open Book

“Closure can not always be found in confrontation, or with sitting in the pain, or with a long overdue argument. Polar Vortex reminds us that sometimes healing is found by simply letting go.” Stacey May Fowles, Open Book

Interview with Shani Mootoo Vancouver Sun

Polar Vortex is an unsettling novel about how secrets always come back to get us – especially the secrets we’ve managed to keep from ourselves.” Jade Colbert, The Globe and Mail

“The thematic cold snap that descends on the characters is temporary, but has permanent consequences, just as with a real polar vortex where frostbite can happen within minutes of exposure. It is an emotional mystery that gradually intensifies as more of the secrets are unveiled, which takes the reader for an unsettling but cathartic ride.” Vincent Ternida, rabble.ca

Shani Mootoo was born in Ireland, grew up in Trinidad, and lives in Canada. She holds an MA in English from the University of Guelph, writes fiction and poetry, and is a visual artist whose work has been exhibited locally and internationally. Mootoo’s critically acclaimed novels include Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab, Valmiki’s Daughter, He Drown She in the Sea, and Cereus Blooms at Night. She is a recipient of the K.M. Hunter Artist Award, a Chalmers Arts Fellowship, and the James Duggins Mid-Career Novelist Award from the Lambda Literary Awards. Her work has been long- and shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the International DUBLIN Literary Award, and the Booker Prize. She lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario.

March 3, 2020 | Fiction
8×5.25 inches | 288 pages
Trade Paper ISBN 9781771665643