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The Only Snow in Havana

3.35  ·  Rating Details ·  23 Ratings  ·  6 Reviews
In one of the earliest works by the 2007 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner, Elizabeth Hay collects a series of reflections on life, identity, history, and love, drifting through her many homes — Yellowknife, Mexico City, Toronto, and New York City — to consider Canadian identity. Hay reflects on the idea of being Canadian — what it means, who we are, how do we act, how do we ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published February 28th 2008 by Cormorant Books (first published 1996)
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Dec 31, 2013 Uncle rated it really liked it
Rabelais said Canada was so cold that words froze on people's lips and hung in mid-air till spring. In the fall sumac turns the colour of cut lips; we talk in hushed monotone till snow falls. - Elizabeth Hay, The Only Snow in Havana.

To outsiders, the Canadian North often seems a harsh, blank place. The northern territories tend to be still underrepresented in Canadian literature. Yet the Yukon has exerted a rich influence on novelist Elizabeth Hay. Hay, a former CBC radio announcer stationed in
Paula Dembeck
Aug 23, 2013 Paula Dembeck rated it did not like it
This book is a great puzzle to me.

I have read Hay’s other later work (“A Student of Weather”, “Light Nights on Air” and “Alone in the Classroom”) all of which were excellent. This is a much earlier work (first published in 1992), which I admit I did not get at all or even like.

It seems to be a combination of a number of disparate things: a personal memoir, a book about travel, a longing for Canada, various historical fragments on the explorers and natives of Canada, observations about fur, stori
Carly Drake
Being a huge fan of "A Student of Weather" and "Garbo Laughs," I searched for this earlier work of Hay's for a long time. I finally found it at a used book sale earlier this summer and was really excited about it. I ended up being fairly disappointed because this is one of those stories that is likely quite brilliant... but... I just didn't get it. I found the story (stories?) to be very fragmented and mysterious, and I just couldn't make the connections I know Hay wanted me to make. However, in ...more
Ron Nie
Dec 16, 2014 Ron Nie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ace
I don't know why the overall rating for this book is so low! I loved this book. I have never read anything quite like it - the writing is beautiful, the content is entirely new, and you even learn new stuff about history. Elizabeth Hay is emotive Canadian perfection. Please give her a shot!
Margaret1358 Joyce
Nov 10, 2013 Margaret1358 Joyce rated it liked it
This rather impressionistic,rambling book by Hay is lovely in its own way, but I had to stop before the end as its premise - frustrating and somewhat vague, was, I had to admit, just out of my reach. It was the perfect book - for someone else.
Jan 21, 2012 Joyce rated it liked it
I enjoy all of Elizabeth Hay's books, especially, A STudent of Weather. this is a small book about a trip to Cuba and a writer's comparative impressions with the north.
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From Elizabeth Hay's web site:
"Elizabeth Hay was born in Owen Sound, Ontario, the daughter of a high school principal and a painter, and one of four children. When she was fifteen, a year in England opened up her world and set her on the path to becoming a writer. She attended the University of Toronto, then moved out west, and in 1974 went north to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. For th
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