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The Gunsmith's Daughter

The Gunsmith's Daughter

296 pages
Published:   April 12, 2022
Fiction  /  Novels  /  Historical Fiction
Paperback:   9781773102399    $24.95

Shortlisted, Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction

1971. Lilac Welsh lives an isolated life with her parents at Rough Rock on the Winnipeg River. Her father, Kal, stern and controlling, has built his wealth by designing powerful guns and ammunition. He’s on the cusp of producing a .50 calibre assault rifle that can shoot down an airplane with a single bullet, when a young stranger named Gavin appears at their door, wanting to meet him before enlisting for the war in Vietnam. Gavin’s arrival sparks an emotional explosion in Lilac’s home and inspires her to begin her own life as a journalist, reporting on the war that’s making her family rich.

The Gunsmith’s Daughter is both a coming-of-age story and an allegorical novel about Canada-US relations. Psychologically and politically astute, and gorgeously written, Margaret Sweatman’s portrait of a brilliant gunsmith and his eighteen-year-old daughter tells an engrossing story of ruthless ambition, and one young woman’s journey toward independence.
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Margaret Sweatman is a playwright, performer, and the author of six novels, including The Gunsmith’s Daughter. Her novels have won the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award, the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction, the McNally Robinson Book of the Year, and the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. She lives in Winnipeg.


Shortlisted: Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction


“An astute and subtle interrogation of a young woman's struggle to forge her own path amidst a bloody conflict and in the shadow of the sometimes wildly profitable business of other people's suffering. Margaret Sweatman is a writer of deep emotional insight, and in Lilac Welsh she has created a vivid, complex character caught between warring currents of ambition and familial loyalty. There is a cold fire that burns through this novel.” — Omar El Akkad, author of What Strange Paradise

“I was thrilled by The Gunsmith's Daughter, by how cinematic and engrossing it is, what big questions it asks.” — Joan Thomas, author of Five Wives

“In this beautifully written and tightly plotted novel, Margaret Sweatman gives us a searing look into ourselves. Lilac Welsh is faced with a moral dilemma. She loves her father but is conflicted about the way he makes his living — he makes guns that kill people. Set in the time of the Vietnam War, Lilac's dilemma is Canada's: we criticize U.S. foreign policy, even while our economic well-being remains entangled in America's. The Gunsmith's Daughter delivers uncomfortable home truths as sharply and poetically as George Bernard Shaw's Arms and the Man.” — Wayne Grady, author of The Good Father

The Gunsmith’s Daughter, possessing the forward thrust of a whodunit, makes for compulsive reading and is clearly the work of a seasoned writer who knows what she’s doing every step of the way.” — Atlantic Books Today

“Throughout the novel, dialogue sparkles with authenticity and wit comparable to the novels of Patrick deWitt (The Sisters Bothers, French Exit). Sweatman’s unpredictable but convincing snippets of conversation go a long a long way in revealing the characters and their relationships, particularly the complex relationship between Lilac and her father.” — Winnipeg Free Press