Category: Fiction

The Dead Celebrities Club

Susan Swan’s latest novel is The Dead Celebrities Club.

Loosely inspired by men in the financial markets like Bernie Madoff, Florian Homm, and Bruno Iksil, protagonist Dale Paul is a witty, self-absorbed rogue who gambles away other people’s money for his own enrichment. As long as this delusion is shared – the same delusion that makes it possible for predatory capitalism to succeed – Dale Paul and his friends are living out another Gilded Age. However, charm and boarding school connections aren’t enough to save Dale Paul from jail time.
While incarcerated, he has a choice: repair his fractured relationships with his family and become a new man or throw himself into another deadly, high-stakes scheme in an attempt to make himself rich again.
Publisher: Cormorant Books

“Most of us are waiting for Trump to go to prison… And The Dead Celebrities Club could be a trailer for that movie.”
–Marni Jackson

“Dale Paul is the archetypal anti-hero of our era & Susan Swan compelling delivers his message.”
– Jane Urquhart

The Western Light

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Hardcover Cover of The Western LightSusan Swan’s newest classic, The Western Light, is a prequel to The Wives of Bath. The story pulls us into the life of young Mouse Bradford, torn between love for her father and the charismatic asylum inmate John Pilkie, an ex Red Wings hockey player, serving a life sentence for the murder of his wife and baby girl.

Set in Madoc’s Landing, a fictional Ontario town on Georgian Bay, The Western Light “weaves in details of the history of the Ontario oil boomtown Petrolia, hockey mania, bootlegging taxi drivers, and debates over psychiatry and universal health care. [Swan’s] poetic descriptions of Ontario’s harsh winter weather and adept use of colloquial speech are particularly vivid, and help bring the world of the novel to vibrant life.” — Sarah Greene, Quill & Quire, October 2012

“[A] vivid evocation of life in the 50s and its essential signifiers: the clothes, the hair, the telephone party lines and the all-out hate-on between fans of the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs.” — Susan G. Cole, NOW Magazine, August 23, 2012

Publisher: Cormoront Books
Shortlisted, 2013 OLA Evergreen Award

What Casanova Told Me

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What Casanova Told Me Cover ArtA dazzlingly imagined novel that embraces two centuries, two women, a long-lost Journal and the mystery behind the legendary Casanova’s last great love.

It’s 1797, and an aging Casanova has returned to Venice in disguise to elude the authorities. There he meets Asked For Adams, the niece of American President John Adams, who is accompanying her father on a trade mission to the city just as Napoleon’s army invades, throwing everything into flux. Casanova convinces Asked For to abandon her future the wife of a Yankee farmer and set out with him on a dangerous adventure through post-Byzantine Greece to Istanbul, which she records in intimate detail in her Journal-until the travel diary ends abruptly and mysteriously.

Two hundred years later the Journal comes into the possession of Luce Adams, Asked For’s 21st-century descendant, awkward, shy, and grieving her mother’s death. En route to her mother’s memorial service in Crete, accompanied by her mother’s lover, and entrusted with delivering the precious letters between her ancestor and Casanova to the Venetian library, she becomes enmeshed in unraveling their story. And as the journeys of the two women come together, Luce finds her own way of moving through the world, and Asked For discovers how vulnerable the great Casanova is-a man whose appetite for life and generous spirit ignites possibilities in every person he touches.

Like Possession by A.S. Byatt, What Casanova Told Me illustrates the mysterious influence of the past on the present and celebrates the unexpected in life and love, the lure of pleasure and freedom, and the transforming lessons of travel.

What Casanova Told Me was a finalist for the 2004 Canada Caribbean Commonwealth Regional Prize and picked as one of The Globe and Mail’s top books of 2004, as well as selected as one of top ten books of the year by Canada’s Sun-Times, the Calgary Herald and Toronto’s NOW magazine. The December edition of Macleans, Canada’s national magazine, named the novel’s protagonist Asked For Adams as one of the five best fictional characters for 2004 and said she was “the utterly charming core of Susan Swan’s parallel-track historical novel, What Casanova Told Me.”

Alberto Manguel, critic and author of The History of Reading, says:

“Susan Swan has given us a great romantic novel. What Casanova Told Me is a graceful and literate meditation on the uneasy relationship between the New ?World and the Old, on the gossip of history, and on the nature of love. This is a sentimental education for our oblivious times.”

The Wives of Bath

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The Wives of Bath Cover ArtA darkly humorous story involving a murder in a girls’ boarding school in the 1960’s. Neither Mouse Bradford nor Paulie Sykes wants to grow up into a woman. Paulie forces Mouse through a series of tests to prove her manliness, which eventually go too far. The current edition has a New Introduction by Susan Swan about the process of the novel becoming a film.

The Wives of Bath was shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Award, shortlisted for the Trillium Award, and was recently selected as one of the best novels of the ‘90’s in US Reader’s Guide compiled by McFarland & Co.

The Wives of Bath was made into the feature film entitled Lost and Delirious (IMDB Info | View Trailer) directed by Lea Pool and starring Piper Perabo, Jessica Pare and Mischa Barton. It made its debut at the Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals and has since been sold to 32 countries, including Canada and the U.S., and film critic Roger Ebert picked it as one of the best independent films of 2001.

Dimensions: 256 Pages | ISBN: 039428044x
Published by Vintage Canada



The Biggest Modern Woman of The World

The Biggest Modern Woman of the World Cover Art

The Biggest Modern Woman in the World book CoverIn this exhilarating and profound novel, Anna Swan, the real-life 7’6”, 413-pound Nova Scotian Giantess renders her own autobiographical account. Born in 1846 (an 18 pound baby) to a family of crofters, Anna Swan had to sit on the floor as a child so that her head would be level with her siblings at the dinner table. Searching for a home that fits, Anna Swan first goes from Nova Scotia to New York, where P.T. Barnum bills her, at his museum of freaks, as The Biggest Modern Woman of the World. Worn down by P.T. Barnum’s museum fires, she goes from New York to Europe and then to a giant farmhouse in the American mid-west, where she hopes to live out the rest of her life like a Victorian lady.

Part truth, part legend, The Biggest Modern Woman of the World is a saucy romp through the traditional categories of gender, art, sexuality and nationality. There never has been a story quite like it.
First published in 1983, The Biggest Modern Woman of the World was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for fiction and the Smith’s Best First Novel Award. In the 2001 reissue you will find a new Afterword written by the author.

The Biggest Modern Woman of The World has been written into a feature film screenplay by John Frizzell (Lucky Girl, Life With Billy, Dance Me Outside). Using Anna’s struggle to find a home (and a life) that fits, the screenplay also examines Western culture’s obsession with size and abnormality. Ultimately it is a love story between ‘freaks’ and ‘normals’ whose goals and desires resonate deeply with our own.

Soft Cover | ISBN: 0-88619-410-5
Publisher: Key Porter Books / L&OD


“Susan Swan creates myth to lend a story to the problems of our time, a time which has lost touch with its own stories and mythical vocabularies. Swan uses classical modes of story-telling but distorts these modes in order to fit the voice of her time.


Her work is a subversion of both the historical and documentary voice which she believes operates under the pretense of being factual and only reflects what we want to see. In subverting these voices, she forces us to look at another reality, a deeper reality which is rooted in something archetypical. Her interest in freaks, in the Gothic, in the apocalyptic, are all ways of lending a narration to contemporary myths.” – Alberto Manguel, critic and novelist



Stupid Boys are Good to Relax With

Stupid Boys are Good to Relax With Cover Art

Stupid Boys are Good to Relax With Cover Art
Finding the perfect man can sometimes be a process of elimination. You eliminate the ones who don’t have jobs and have no intention of ever getting one. You eliminate the ones who still live at home, sucking every last penny from their parents. And of course, you eliminate the stupid ones. But wait, maybe you should hang on to the stupid ones, just for the sake of relaxation. Stupid Boys Are Good to Relax With is a comical collection examining women’s relationships with the opposite sex. Story titles include “Sluts,” “Young and Gay,” “I Am Not a Bottled Blonde” and “The Man Doll.” Best of all is Susan Swan’s “Stupid Boy Handbook,” which explains how to spot and be aware of stupid boys.

Dimensions: 288 Pages | ISBN: 1894042387
Published by Somerville House

“Stupid Boys Are Good to Relax With” is a painful, witty, savage collection of short stories and vignettes about young women and how they relate to men, meaning their fathers, their boyfriends, flashers and guys throughout their history….Only now as women haul in paychecks can can women point out that stupid boys are like …. toddlers, possessed of a certain animal magnetism.”

–Heather Mallick

“Swan has not shied away from portraying the dark side of female sexuality. The notion that much of this collection continues in that tradition is one that will catch no reader of Swan’s previous work with his or her pants down.”

– Dan Smith The Toronto Star

The Last of the Golden Girls

The Last of the Golden Girls Book Cover

The Last of the Golden GirlsIn a timely reprint with a previously unpublished epilogue, Susan Swan’s celebrated novel, The Last of the Golden Girls, paints a haunting portrait of female friendship among the rich in English Canada. During the long hot summers of the 1950s, in the labyrinth of inland seas that is northern Ontario, three girls share their adolescent secrets and dreams—and compete for the attention of one godlike boy. A decade later, when they meet again in the realm of speedboats and private islands, childish crudity is replaced by adult decadence. An award-winning novelist published in twenty countries, Swan gives readers everywhere an intimate look at the world of money and privilege—refracted through the prism of summer pleasure.

Dimensions: 9 x 6 in | Canadian Author | ISBN: 0886194040
Published: March 2001 | Published by L & OD


“A frighteningly pleasurable novel … a tour de force of writing and a brilliant parable for our time.”

– Aritha Van Herk