Mary Novik

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Mary Novik is a Canadian novelist.


Born in Victoria, British Columbia and raised in Victoria and Surrey, Mary Novik received a Ph.D. in literature from The University of British Columbia and lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.[1] Novik taught literature and creative writing at Langara College in Vancouver, wrote reviews and articles on poetry, and now belongs to the fiction writing group, SPiN, which includes Jen Sookfong Lee and June Hutton.

Literary works[edit]

Mary Novik is the author of two novels set in the past, Conceit and Muse, in which fiction and fact are creatively mingled.[2] Novik is engaged in an "ongoing exploration of minor characters in the lives of great figures of literature" [3] and is part of the current "boom" in historical fiction in Canada.[4]

Mary Novik's debut novel, Conceit (Doubleday Canada, 2007) is about Pegge Donne,[5] the daughter of the Metaphysical poet John Donne, and is set in 17th century London.[6] Other fictional characters based on historical people are Donne's wife Ann More, the diarist Samuel Pepys, and the fisherman Izaak Walton.[7] Conceit has been praised for its "breathtaking ambition".[8] It won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and was nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.[9] It was chosen as a Book of the Year by both The Globe and Mail and Quill & Quire. Canada Reads named Conceit one of the Top 40 Essential Canadian Novels of the Decade.

Novik's novel Muse (Doubleday Canada, 2013) is the second in a series of works imagining "the circumstances surrounding the creation of venerated works of art: in this case, the love sonnets of the Italian bard, Petrarch."[10] Solange Le Blanc, a fictional narrator inspired by the unidentified mother of Petrarch's children, "is posited as the poet's muse" and "the use of fictional characters interacting with true historical figures is a liberating creative device".[2] The novel "recreates" 14th-century Avignon in the time of the popes, "its corruption and excesses, its beauty and its art."[11]



  1. ^ Gudrun Will. "17th-century immersion: Donne & Daughter", Vancouver Review, No. 15 (Fall 2007), p. 25
  2. ^ a b Athena McKenzie. "The Muse Abides", The Globe and Mail, August 17, 2013, p. R10
  3. ^ Robert Wiersema. "Love Poetry's Labour Lost", The Vancouver Sun, August 17, 2013, p. C7
  4. ^ Eva Karpinski. "Transversal Alliances", Canada and Beyond: A Journal of Canadian Literary and Cultural Studies, Vol. 3, No. 1-2 (2013), p. 200
  5. ^ Edward O'Connor. "The Poet and His Headstrong Daughter", The Fiddlehead, No. 238 (Winter 2009), pp. 98-100
  6. ^ Jim Bartley. "Mary Novik's Conceit: A Magnificent Novel of 17th-century London", The Globe and Mail, September 8, 2007, pp. D1, 8, 25
  7. ^ Holly Faith Nelson. "Milton and Poetry, 1603-1660", The Year's Work in English Studies, Vol. 88, No. 1 (2009)
  8. ^ Jeanne Shami. Review of Conceit, Wascana Review, Vol. 41, Nos. 1 & 2 (Spring & Fall 2006), pp. 131-138
  9. ^ Andrea King. "Haunting Love in Anne Hebert's Les fous de Bassan and Mary Novik's Conceit", Canadian Literature, No. 214 (Fall 2012), pp. 31-45
  10. ^ Dana Hansen. Muse by Mary Novik, Quill & Quire, Vol. 79, No. 7 (September 2013), p. 26
  11. ^ Terri R. Baker. Review of Muse, Historical Novels Review, No. 66 (November 2013)

External links[edit]