The Winter Vault, By Anne Michaels

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The Independent Culture

A dozen years after Fugitive Pieces, the Canadian mistress of poetic melancholia returns. The Winter Vault hardly develops like a conventional novel: each main character in a triple narrative slips into a mode of rapt soliloquy.

Under the signs of memory, exile and "consolation" – a key concept – Michaels makes three worlds converge. In postwar Canada, we witness a couple's tender courtship as great deeds of hydro-engineering sweep through the land.

In Egypt, Lake Nasser wipes out the timeless villages of Nubia and – back in Toronto – a Polish migrant painter relives the annihilation of Warsaw.

Read Michaels for the eerily majestic music of her voice, sliding between times and souls as it transforms a world of change and loss into a prose rhapsody.