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Pauls by Jess Taylor

Pauls by Jess Taylor

Literary Fiction
Publication Date: October 1, 2015
192 pages
8 x 5.25 inches
ISBN 9781771661683

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2016 ReLit Awards Finalist for Short Fiction Editors’ Best Book of 2015

National Post Best Book of 2015

Kobo Best Canadian Book of 2015

49th Shelf Most Anticipated 2015 Fall Fiction Selection

2016 National Magazine Award Fiction Nominee for the story “Breakfast Curry”

Quill and Quire “Best of 2015” Cover Design Selection

Paul is not always the same Paul, but could very well be a similar Paul, another Paul in a long line of Pauls. Paul runs through forests, drinks in student housing, flirts with girls, at times is a girl, loves men, makes friends, jumps from buildings, hurts people, gets hurt, climbs up towards the sky, waits for a sunrise, and all those human things.

Pauls, the debut short-story collection by the exciting young writer Jess Taylor, is about people: the things that remain unseen to them; how they cope with their unforgettable pasts; the different roles they take in each other’s lives; how they hurt each other; how they try to heal each other; the things they want to learn; and the things they’ll never discover. At the same time, Pauls is a portrayal of the world as these people see it—they all exist in a universe that is strange and indifferent to those within it. Coincidences, relationships, conversations, and friendships all pose more questions than answers.

With a unique tone that balances humour, irony, and heavy themes, this series of interconnected stories has already garnered attention from awards’ panels, with the title story winning Gold at the 2013 National Magazine Awards. Its contemporary tone and playful language offer an enjoyable read for people who like lively short fiction that focuses attention on themes of identity, relationships, and love.

Watch the BookThug Author Interview with Jess Taylor:

Watch the Pauls Book Launch and Reading:

Watch the Book Trailer for Pauls:

Praise for Pauls:

“A magical and penetrating collection of strange, mundane, traumatized and ecstatic people who are all named Paul. Its simple sentences are little atoms of wonder.” —Heather O’Neill, Two time Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist for The Girl Who Was Saturday Night and Daydreams of Angels

“Reading a Jess Taylor story is like planting a magic bean and watching, with a flashlight, as it grows overnight into something you’ve never seen before. But then you climb up the stalk of the story and look around and realize there is no magic at all, at least, nothing un-real. These are true stories, illuminated with the wisdom of Flannery O’Connor and the wild leaping logic of Hans Christian Andersen.” —Michael Winter, author of Minister Without Portfolio, longlisted for the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize

“I read Jess Taylor’s debut with a kind of childlike enthusiasm. As a writer, she’s thoughtful, compassionate, imaginative and intellectually curious. Her stories tend to establish themselves slowly, like a storm moving in, and they always revolve around a strong emotional centre that pulls you in, some sort of gravity. Don’t resist.” —Guillaume Morissette, author of New Tab, Finalist for the 2015 First Novel Award


Read the story “We Want Impossible Things” in Joyland Magazine

Read the story “Multicoloured Lights” in Canadian Notes and Queries


“Taylor’s debut collection is a cycle of bristlingly good stories that all feature at least one character named Paul. It’s an exciting thing to behold; one gets the sense of discovering in her authentic, compelling voice a master-in-waiting, like a young Alice Munro.” —National Post

“Taylor is fascinated by the politics of romance, visiting over and again deceits, unspoken words, veiled threats, and the fundamental inability for men to understand women (and, of course, vice versa). For an author who’ll turn 30 four years from now, Taylor exhibits remarkable insights into matters of the fickle heart.” —Toronto Star

“The collection succeeds not only because Taylor has chosen the perfect vehicle to bring forth her unifying themes of repetition and chance, but also because of her skill as a storyteller and her great attention to detail.” —Winnipeg Review

“In the world of Pauls, love is deliriously, obsessively painful, and Taylor has her finger placed squarely on that exquisite bruise.” —Alison Lang for Broken Pencil Magazine

“At the level of language, the stories are colloquial and calm even while broaching the subject of trauma. Taylor’s nimble prose guides the collection through its dark corridors. Her sentences simmer, slowly building a quiet pathos.” —Adele Barclay for The Rusty Toque

“The world of Taylor’s stories is not odd or quirky, but the banal and brutal place that the world just is. It’s how that world is viewed in Taylor’s stories that rotoscopes poetry onto the reality.” —Andrew Hood for The Bookshelf Blog

“Taylor is adept at capturing the anxiety-ridden tenor of the current zeitgeist.” —Steven W. Beattie for  The Globe and Mail

“I really enjoyed Jess Taylor’s debut collection, Pauls. These stories offer portraits of a twentysomething brain: one that is trying to figure out how on earth to deal with all the feelings that come with being an adult. The wisdom in these stories is so hard come by, and is at once so beautiful, so tiny, so terrifying. Like all talented writers, Taylor makes you long for what she will do next.” —Heather O’Neill on why Pauls is her favourite book of 2015 for CBC Books

“There is a sharp and simultaneously tender vision at the heart of Pauls. It’s fine. And it’s fine. And it is also fine. And, it’s a careful line of stitching.” —Buried in Print

“Jess Taylor’s Pauls is a work of uncanny beauty.” —Brandon McFarlane, University of Toronto Quarterly, Volume 86, Number 3, Summer 2017

Interviews and Profiles:

The Chat: Trevor Corkum interviews Jess Taylor —49th Shelf

“I write about people who are trapped. I write about people who are alienated. And I think gender and power dynamics trap and alienate people”: an interview with Jess Taylor —Prism International

First Fiction Friday spotlight on Pauls by Jess Taylor —All Lit Up

The Proust Questionnaire with Jess Taylor —Open Book Toronto

“On Reading ‘Paul’ on the Island and Everything That Came After”: Guest Post with Jess Taylor: —IFOA Blog

Pauls: A Mix-Tape: A Story-By-Story Playlist for Jess Taylor’s Debut Collection —Little Fiction

Jess Taylor on CanLit Names (or “Not a Comprehensive List of CanLit Pauls”) —49th Shelf

“The Parts of People that Hurt”: Three Questions for Jess Taylor —The Town Crier

Jess Taylor Q&A: Vancouver Writers Fest hosts the best new faces in Canadian literature —Vancouver Sun

Do-Lit-Yourself: Short Stories, Long Nails —All Lit Up

Jess Taylor is a writer and poet based in Toronto, Ontario. She is the host and founder of the Emerging Writers Reading Series and is the fiction editor of Little Brother Magazine. Her work has been published in a variety of journals, magazines, and newspapers, including Little Fiction, Little Brother, This Magazine, The National Post, Emerge Literary Journal, Great Lakes Review, Zouch Magazine, and offSIDE Zine. Her pamphlet chapbook, And Then Everyone, was released by Picture Window Press in the spring of 2014. In October 2014, Anstruther Press released her first full-length chapbook, Never Stop. Recently, she was named “one of the best alt- lit reads coming out of Canada” by Dazed and Confused Magazine. She also received the Gold 2013 National Magazine Award in Fiction for her short story, “Paul.” Connect with Taylor at, on Facebook (, on Twitter @jesstaylorwriter, or on Tumblr (

Additional information

Weight .2 kg
Dimensions 8 × 5.25 in