The Sleeping Car Porter

Product Details
$17.95  $16.69
Coach House Books
Publish Date
5.2 X 8.2 X 0.9 inches | 0.55 pounds

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About the Author
Suzette Mayr is the author of six novels including her most recent, The Sleeping Car Porter, winner of the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Award, the Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction, and theCity of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize. The novel was also shortlisted for the inauguralCarol Shields Prize for Fiction, and the Republic of Consciousness Prize (US and Canada).Mayr's other novels have won the ReLit Award and City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize, and been nominated for the Commonwealth Prize for Best Book in the Canada-CaribbeanRegion, the Writers' Guild of Alberta's Best First Book and Best Novel Awards, and the Ferro- Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction. Mayr has done interdisciplinary work with Calgary theatre company Theatre Junction, and visual artists Lisa Brawn and Geoff Hunter. She has also published articles in journals such as Horror Studies, Studies in Canadian Literature, and The Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature. She is a former President of the Writers' Guild of Alberta. Mayr teaches Creative Writing at the University of Calgary, and is a Killam Laureate.

"Mayr's prose is vivid but never overwrought, capturing the surrealism of intense fatigue in constant motion ... Readers will be captivated." - Publishers Weekly, starred review

"In 1929, being a passenger train porter was fraught with challenges...Baxter's own sleep deprivation is perhaps the most intriguing character of the book. It leads to hallucinations, questionable decisions, and borderline supernatural suggestions." - Kirkus Reviews

"Suzette Mayr's novel The Sleeping Car Porter an artfully constructed story that moves, beguiles, and satisfies." - Brett Josef Grubisic, The Toronto Star

"Suzette Mayr brings to life -believably, achingly, thrillingly -a whole world contained in a passenger train moving across the Canadian vastness, nearly one hundred years ago. As only occurs in the finest historical novels, every page in The Sleeping Car Porter feels alive and immediate -and eerily contemporary. The sleeping car porter in this sleek, stylish novel is named R.T. Baxter -called George by the people upon whom he waits, as is every other Black porter. Baxter's dream of one day going to school to learn dentistry coexists with his secret life as a gay man, and in Mayr's triumphant novel we follow him not only from Montreal to Calgary, but into and out of the lives of an indelibly etched cast of supporting characters, and, finally, into a beautifully rendered radiance." - 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize Jury

"Mayr's new novel, through painstaking historical research, reconstructs the workdays of a Black, lower-class, closeted gay man." - Reinhold Kramer, The Winnipeg Free Press

"Baxter works the trains as they run from Toronto to Winnipeg, through Calgary and Banff to Vancouver. Passengers on board wrestle with the details of their lives: hats and weddings, books and paperwork, drinks and cigars, childhood loss and bad telegrams, boots to be shined, a scrutinized pocket watch, communication with the dead. Baxter continuously serves them, ever watchful, needing perfection. Ten more demerits will get him fired, and a black man hiding his desire for other men has plenty of reasons to fear being targeted by whites with money. Endless patience is required to be a sleeping car porter. He's always exhausted, but it's a job, and he's saving, determined to pay for school and become a dentist who will one day be important. Then he'll be the one riding. For now, his dreams keep him alive, and time spent with people shoved together in tight spaces can shake up whole worlds. In the end, it's a little girl who fully reveals him. She's just lost her mother and won't sleep, clinging to Baxter instead. This is intensely researched historical fiction that doesn't feel like history. It feels like heart." - Tim McCarthy, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

"Mayr evokes the mystique of transcontinental travel and the tumult of lives on the margins in this much-anticipated period novel. All aboard!" - Oprah Daily

"I couldn't help imagining what a film Wes Anderson might make of Suzette Mayr's The Sleeping Car Porter. The novel's main character is a gay Black porter riding the rails in 1920's Canada, coping with a horde of difficult long-haul passengers, including a child who appears to have permanently attached herself to his leg. Terrified that a breach of one of the railway's insanely restrictive rules will get him fired before he can save enough money for dental school, he amuses himself--and keeps awake on his grueling shifts--by imagining the medical horrors that lie behind the smiles (or grimaces) of his clientele." - The New York Times