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list price: $19.95
category: Fiction
published: Apr 2020
publisher: Nightwood Editions

In the Beggarly Style of Imitation

by Jean Marc Ah-Sen

tagged: short stories (single author), literary, epistolary

Born on the twin backs of torpidity and obsession, In the Beggarly Style of Imitation is a voyage into the mind of one of the Canadian literary underground’s most unruly writers. Equal parts tribute to the historical genesis of the novel and the well-trodden subject of love, the exercises of imitation contained in this collection offer a brief survey through the illustrious forms and genres of literary expression: epistolary, aphorism, essay, picaresque, romance and satire culminate in a celebratory brand of fiction that proves with finality that imitation is truly the vilest form of flattery.

About the Author

Jean Marc Ah-Sen is the Toronto-based author of Grand Menteur, which The Globe and Mail selected as a top 100 Best Book in 2015. The National Post has hailed his work as "an inventive escape from the conventional." He lives with his wife and two sons.

Editorial Reviews

“...the stories are extremely funny, especially if you enjoy erudite verbal riffs and labyrinthine jokes that shapeshift from one context to another. The more I read, the more I also appreciated the deep seriousness behind Ah-Sen’s high-stakes play. Many of the stories make important points about race, class and power, including the existential agility required by the hybrid racialized immigrant in urban North America, whose dynamic identity flexes, expands and contracts depending on context and social location.”

— Cathy Stonehouse, <i>EVENT</i>

“At a time when writers—and writers of colour in particular—are described as being voices rather than having them, Ah-Sen offers a vision of the self that is compulsively creative and ecstatically pervious to the world.”

— <i>The Walrus</i>

“Jean Marc Ah-Sen is my favourite stylist among young Canadian novelists, as committed to creating contrasting prose effects for each section of In the Beggarly Style of Imitation as he is to forging unique characters. There's writing about race in this book that is vital, surprising, discomfiting, all the more so because Ah-Sen maintains a tension between play and dead-seriousness that doesn't allow readers to firmly choose a side: the game remains undefined. I never knew what was going to happen on the next page, which is perhaps the rarest experience in reading.”

— Nathan Ripley/Naben Ruthnum

“Ah-Sen's work is a treasure—playful, curious and mischievous. Reading his work is like being guided through a storm by a generous but unhinged soothsayer, one who never forgets the pleasures of language or the vagaries of relationships. Ah-Sen is consistently capable of finding great beauty and piercing insight amidst the banalities of daily life.”

— Adnan Khan

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