Acclaimed Author Neil Smith will be at Dawson on Oct. 20


Montreal writer Neil Smith will read from his darkly comic new novel Jones on Thursday, Oct. 20 at 2 p.m. in room 5B.16, with a special opening act—a Dawson student reading from their creative work.

Smith will also give a short talk and participate in a Q&A. This event is free and open to the public.

About the writer

Neil Smith‘s short story collection Bang Crunch (2007) was chosen as a best book of the year by the Washington Post and the Globe and Mail, and was awarded the McAuslan First Book Prize from the Quebec Writers’ Federation, among other honours. His novel Boo (2015), won the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and was and was longlisted for the Prix des libraires du Québec. Smith also works as a translator, from French to English. The Goddess of Fireflies, his translation of Geneviève Pettersen’s novel La déesse des mouches à feu, was nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award for translation.

The book

Jones is the harrowing, funny, utterly unforgettable story of a pair of siblings attempting to survive the horror show of their family.

Abi and Eli share a special bond. Eli looks up to his sister Abi. They share jokes, codes, and an obsession with impressive feats of word power—such are the survival tricks for growing up Jones. Pal, their alcoholic father, is haunted by demons from the Korean War, and their less-than-nurturing mother Joy hasn’t got the courage to leave him. The Joneses move from Montreal to Boston, Salt Lake City, Chicago, and back to Montreal. No matter where they go, though, they can never get away from Jones Town.

And then, on Eli’s twelfth birthday, the darkness deepens when he stumbles on something he doesn’t understand—an episode that represents the beginning of Abi’s unraveling, although no one knows it yet. Over the years, Eli and Abi lurch towards and into adulthood on separate paths that sometimes cross, negotiating the world through sexual experimentation, drugs and alcohol, art and language.

“Bold, sad and ruthlessly funny, Jones will open you up like a brick across your brow. Neil Smith writes like a tender, wicked arbiter, plumbing the depths of what family is and cannot be.

I adored this book and its indestructible love.”

— Sean Michaels, author of Us Conductors and The Wagers


Toronto Star review: ‘Jones’ may be a common name, but Neil Smith’s new novel is uncommonly powerful

Quill and Quire Review

Last Modified: October 5, 2022