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This Side of Sad

This Side of Sad

Part mystery, part elegy, This Side of Sad begins with an ending: the violent enigma of a man's death. Was it an accident, or did James commit suicide? In the shattering aftermath, his widow, Maslen, questions her own capacity for love and undertakes a painful self-inquiry, examining the history of her heart and tracing the fault lines of her own fragile identity. What emerges is a mesmerizing tour of a woman's complex past, rendered in the associative logic of memory and desire.

A gifted storyteller reminiscent of Alice Munro or Joan Didion, Karen Smythe finds poetic complexity in the seeming trivialities of the ordinary. Meditative, philosophical, and confessional, This Side of Sad is a provocative and piercing novel that explores the disintegration of a marriage; the enduring colloquy between the living and the dead; and the meaning we find within the random architecture of despair and joy.


Karen Smythe is the author of a short-story collection, Stubborn Bones, and Figuring Grief, a groundbreaking analysis of the depiction of mourning in fiction by Mavis Gallant, Alice Munro, Virginia Woolf, Edna O'Brien, and others. Her stories have also appeared in Grain, the Fiddlehead, the Antigonish Review, and the Gaspereau Review. She lives in Guelph, Ontario.

324 pages
Pub date: September 5, 2017