The Freedom in American Songs: Stories

Kathleen Winter (Author)


A Library Journal Key Indie Fiction Title, Fall 2014
A Book to Read for October, 2014

Meet Xavier Boland, the untouchable cross-dresser, who walks loose and carefree as an old Broadway tune. Meet Miss Penrice, a lost old woman forced by wartime to parent a child for the first time. Meet a Zamboni mechanic turned funeral porteur, Madame Poirer's lapdog (and its chastity belt), a congregation of hard-singing, sex-obsessed Pentecostals, and more. With The Freedom in American Songs, Kathleen Winter brings her unusual sensuality, lyrically rendered settings, and subversive humour to bear on a new story collection about modern loneliness, small-town gay teens, catastrophic love, and the holiness of ordinary life.

Praise for Kathleen Winter

"Utterly original."--O, The Oprah Magazine

"Absorbing, earnest. . . . Beautifully written."--The New York Times Book Review

"Her lyrical voice and her crystalline landscape are enchanting."--The New Yorker

"Read it because it's a story told with sensitivity to language that compels to the last page, and read it because it asks the most existential of questions. Stripped of the trappings of gender, Winter asks, what are we?" - The Globe and Mail

"She captures the way the truth both imprisons us and sets us free. . . . Simple, touching, real, absolutely convincing and sympathetic."--The Rumpus

"A major writer."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Product Details

$15.95  $14.67
Publish Date
October 21, 2014
5.2 X 0.5 X 8.2 inches | 0.4 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Kathleen Winter's debut novel, "Annabel," was nominated for the Orange Prize, the IMPAC Dublin Award, and the three biggest fiction prizes in Canada; it won the Thomas Head Raddall Award (2011) and an Independent Literary Award (2010); it was selected as a "New York Times" Editor's Choice for 2011, became a #1 Canadian bestseller, and has been translated around the world. Winter's first story collection ("boYs," 2006) also won numerous Canadian awards. She has an Arctic travel memoir ("Boundless") forthcoming in fall 2014. Born in the UK, Winter now lives in Montreal after spending many years in Newfoundland.


"Winter's quirky second collection offers 14 stories filled with extraordinary individuals living within artfully rendered landscapes. The three 'Marianne Stories, ' set in a village on the east coast of Canada, are filled with wonders and discoveries, from the beauty of splits of wood in winter to raspberries out of season. Marianne's visit to a Pentecostal service is a comic delight. The second section ranges from the cross-dressing Xavier of the title story to Claire, who is visiting Florida's Sanibel Island as a respite from the Montréal winter, to a homeless flamenco dancer, all rendered in vivid, empathetic language."--Jane Ciabattari, "Between the Lines,"

"So delightfully unexpected is the syntax of these stories, so nuanced their level of observation, that the effect of reading them is akin to hearing someone speaking in tongues."--The Toronto Star

"As in her often-brilliant novel Annabel, Winter's new collection offers empathetic examinations of people who don't quite fit within the narrow confines of society ... Besides her depth of sympathy, Winter breathes remarkable life into her settings ... [she] knows how to love a place, and it shows."--Publishers Weekly

"Quirky, often humorous stories threaded with emotional depth and complexity ... Winter holds the narratives fast, teetering on the edge of understanding, leaving both her characters and reader in a state of suspended uncertainty ... sentences linger and bloom in the reader's mind ... wonderful indeed."--Quill & Quire, starred review

"The Freedom of American Songs ... [carries] the kind of quirky sensibility for which the author has become known ... The strongest story in the collection is "Anhinga" ... [which] marries a strong narrative line with Winter's evident joy in language."--Steven Beattie, The National Post

"Reading [this collection] is like taking a whirlwind trip ... With humour, Winter chronicles the everyday and the unusual. She presents us with mystery, intrigue and cliffhangers." --Atlantic Books Today

"These short stories reach right into the heart of moments of human connection, richly portraying the significance of both intimate and casual encounters. The Freedom in American Songs illuminates the interior landscape of its characters, examining the fragility of our relationships and the indelible traces they leave on us."--CultMTL

"Her work gets under your skin and sticks with you ... it's that rush, that probing of the unconscious, that gives these stories their raw power ... when I got to the last page of The Freedom in American Songs, I wished I could keep reading."--Rover