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Late Nights on Air

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  10,584 ratings  ·  692 reviews
The eagerly anticipated novel from the bestselling author of A Student of Weather and Garbo Laughs.

Harry Boyd, a hard-bitten refugee from failure in Toronto television, has returned to a small radio station in the Canadian North. There, in Yellowknife, in the summer of 1975, he falls in love with a voice on air, though the real woman, Dido Paris, is both a surprise and even more
Hardcover, 364 pages
Published September 18th 2007 by McClelland & Stewart
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Average rating 3.55  · 
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 ·  10,584 ratings  ·  692 reviews

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Diane Barnes
Aug 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If you like fast paced, action filled, plot driven novels, this this is not your book. However, if you, like myself, love beautiful prose, slowly mounting realizations, characters you come to know and love little by little, and immersion into their lives and the story being told, grab this book and don't let go until you finish the last wonderful page.
It takes place in the wilds of northern Canada in 1975, at a small radio station in Yellowknife. Harry Boyd is the station manager, overseei
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
Abandoned with some relief at 66%

I was born in Canada & have family who moved to & had some success in Yellowknife. I've consciously (I'm sure I read a few books where I didn't know the author's nationality!)read very few Canadian authors, other than Margaret Atwood and L M Montgomery. I really wanted to like this book!

Unfortunately the language is beautiful but empty & the plot (if you could call it that) moves at the speed of concrete. Other than Harry I never cared about an
I'm surprised that this novel won the Giller Prize - one of Canada's most prestigious literary awards. The pacing is glacial, the characters uninteresting, and there's no real plot; the whole book is a collection of situations which happen to the cast, and since we have no real reason to care about any of them there's little to make us want to turn the page. Late Nights on Air is simply not compelling, and I almost didn't finish reading it.

I was drawn to the book because of its premise:
(4.5) I read my first novel by Hay, A Student of Weather, last year. It was wonderfully rewarding even though it took me a month to read. By contrast, I read the Giller Prize-winning Late Nights on Air in half that time. Most of it is set in 1975–7 in Yellowknife, a small city in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Here winter lasts for eight months and you can still meet with snow and frozen lakes in early July. A tight-knit cast gathers around the local radio station: Harry and Gwen, refugees from Ontario startin ...more
Rebecca McNutt
Late Nights on Air is so fantastic and nostalgic that it's like opening an old box of Kodachrome slides at an antique shop. This 1970's-set story holds the spirit of Canada perfectly and is certainly worth reading.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This 2007 winner of the Giller Prize is set in the mid 1970s in Yellowknife (in the Northwest Territories of Canada.) It details the lives of the people working in the local radio station and then follows four of them as they go on a canoe trip to trace the route of John Hornby in The Barrens. I'm glad I came across this book, enjoyed reading it, but will have to knock one star off my eventual rating for atrocious overuse of foreshadowing.
Connie G
Jun 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Elizabeth Hay worked as a radio broadcaster in Yellowknife forty years ago, and she revisits that isolated area in Late Nights on Air. Set in 1975, it was a time when radio was being replaced by television. The environment and the northern way of life was also being threatened by a proposal to cross the frozen Canadian tundra with a gas pipeline.

The radio station employees are imperfect people who are searching for what they want in life. Some have traveled from more southern areas, hopi
Mary S
Feb 05, 2009 rated it liked it
I almost didn't finish this book. The first 60 pages were tiresome to drag myself through. Then Ms. Hay caught me with something so "Northern Canada" that I was immediately hooked. It was a print out of messages that CBC used to read over the air -- things like " Joe Blogs, get in touch with the RCMP at Fort Rae for an urgent message from your brother Ron." or "To the Blogs family, Resolute Bay. Jannie had her baby. A boy, 7 lbs 2 ounces. Mom and baby are doing well and say hi."

I liv
Jul 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
You’ve heard it said, “hurts so good.” About the writing style of Elizabeth Hay, I can say: cuts so soft. Her words, her turn of phrase, her sweet sentence construction, it is as precise and expertly sculpted as with a sculptor’s chisel or a surgeon’s scalpel. Yet soft. The sharpest knife enters your flesh with hardly more than a red line—and finds its target. The heart. The reader’s mind. There are no ragged edges here.

The setting for this novel intrigued me right away. The book was a choice i
You can’t get much more Canadian than this novel—it is written by a former CBC employee, it involves the national radio service, there are questions of identity, there is self-discovery through a wilderness trip, and it takes place in the North, mythologized by all of us southern Canadians.

Two young women, Gwen and Dido, come to Yellowknife to craft lives and identities for themselves through working on the radio. I related to Gwen’s search for herself through her radio work, having
Feb 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Aaah, like the tiny beautiful artic flowers, this is a finely woven tale. The characters are all searching for themselves in this most northern landscape where the air, light, sounds and silence are like no other. One could look at this landscape and see little but harshness, nothingness, cold or one could marvel in the beauty of life on small and vast scale, hear the wind speak and connect with the environment and others. The four main characters journey together and separately and each changes ...more
Hannah Holborn
May 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A character in Elizabeth's book describes good script writing as having simplicity, directness, and intimacy. Late Night on Air achieves all three. Whether we love or hate the main characters by the end of the book, we also know them as well as our own skin. And we know something of the north--its timeless fragility, and its ability to both save and destroy those who venture there.
Canada's North has always fascinated me, and I enjoy reading fiction and nonfiction about it. Although LATE NIGHTS ON AIR by Elizabeth Hay is a fictional novel set in 1975 in Yellowknife and surrounding areas, it felt like the characters were real and I was with them experiencing life in the remote Northwest Territories and working at the radio station. Elizabeth Hay has worked for CBC Radio in Yellowknife, Winnipeg, and Toronto, so had experience in that setting.

I immediately liked Harry Boyd,
this review is for the audio edition, narrated by the author.

elizabeth hay spent years working in radio with the CBC, so she totally has the vocal chops to narrate her own work. i have had the pleasure of seeing hay in-person, so knew i would be in for a treat. plus, this is a novel i already love, having read it twice in paper. i was completely transported by listening to the story. though, there was one moment in the book that i, now that it was experienced it again, have decided i
Autumn Chrunik
Aug 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
I love that this book is set in Canada and is written by a Canadian author, but I can't get into the story. I didn't understand it and did not feel any connection to the characters. And when I paused to stop reading it for a few days, it made me not want to pick up it up again, or try anything else. This one sadly, just isn't for me.
Christina McLain
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I thought this book was a flawed masterpiece. The story of four quirky characters who meet at a radio station in Yellowknife in the 70's is many things: an ode to the Canadian north,a study of radio and the impact it has on isolated communities and individuals, an essay on the effect of development on the environment and indigenous people and at its heart, the tale of star-crossed lovers, Dido an enigmatic and seductive announcer with a fabulous voice and Harry,the hapless station manager with a ...more
Allison ༻hikes the bookwoods༺
Finally, a book I could really sink my teeth into! After a summer of disappointing reads, this one was just the balm I needed. Elizabeth Hay is a very talented writer and I look toward to reading more of her work.
Catherine Daigle
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
I adored this book. Definitely not for everyone as the book is more about the characters than any series of events but what rich characters they are. They are so real I swear I could smell them. I'm really looking forward to reading more books by Elizabeth Hay.
Aug 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I laughed and I cried and I marvelled and I kept reading in one long sitting.

Very deserving of The Giller, in my opinion.
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
There is much to appreciate in Hay's Late Nights on Air....the writing and most especially her exquisite way of writing truly believable characters and circumstances. The dynamic of these characters in their work and private environments was one to read with wonder and awe - truly believable and wholly realistic writing and situations.

There were multiple poignantly written moments, and I've marked down many. That ending was beautiful and I loved that ending. But if I was honest with myself, I w
Aug 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
elizabeth hay is an amazing writer. seriously beautiful with her prose. this story made me cry. twice. i don't tend to cry when i read books. but this is what happens to me when i read her books - i become so invested in the plot and with the characters that it seems so very real. the triumphs and tragedies sit with me personally and occupy space in my heart.

if you are one to time your reads to the seasons, this is a perfect winter book.
switterbug (Betsey)
Feb 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"...this summer of 1975 took on the mythical quality of a cloudless summer before the outbreak of war, or before the onset of the kind of restlessness, social, spiritual, that remakes the world."

In the Canadian Northwest territories, a place of harsh winters and summers of unrelenting light, the hamlet of Yellowknife remains like an anachronism. Population ten thousand, including native people that have lived on this land for thousands of years; it was their flesh and blood. Now the
Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great imagery and great story. An eclectic group of co-workers in an unlikely location on an unlikely adventure. This test of relationships is really relatable because it could be everyone's story even though the adventure may not be quite so daring-- very thought provoking ! Just a great read interspersed with laughter and emotion.
Jennifer Blair
Nov 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book made me want to pack my bags, catch the first plane to the Yukon, and leave everything behind. Beautifully written, endlessly fascinating, and deeply poignant, Late Nights on Air was just the escape I needed right now.
Nov 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Like many books set in the north, this is a slow enjoyable book where the landscape is as much s character as any of the people. There are multiple stories being told in this book, some are tragic and some are hopeful. Either way it is a beautiful book.
Nov 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
I just couldn't possibly care any less for a single person in this novel.
Ron Charles
Dec 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the good old days, before we had to worry about the Internet killing off everything, we used to worry about the survival of radio. First television drove the industry into the music corner, and then corporate consolidation, rightwing cranks and shock jocks homogenized the dial to death. Let a thousand podcasts bloom, but they can't replace the special intimacy we used to feel late at night in the car or at home -- lonely or missing someone -- listening to the silky voice of a sympathetic deej ...more
Ian Carpenter
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful. Amazing. I finished and was immediately digging back to find passages I loved. The poetic sensuality of Hay's prose is unique. Her sense of the give and take in relationships, friendships, attraction, pain, aging, failing and happy compromise is incredible. And I haven't read this kind of interaction with the land and landscape and weather and flora and fauna since Conrad, Melville and McCarthy. And she comes to it so differently than them - it's in her. It's so much more feeling. A l ...more
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Just incredible descriptions of the landscape in Northern Canada, populated by complex, complicated people. And sentences like “And the thought came to him that it wasn’t just one person who had died, but all the filaments of life connecting that person to everyone he’d ever known and to every place he’d ever been.” Ah....
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The story of a collection of people who are brought together through their employment at a Northern Radio station.

The location and the climate are as much a character of the story as the people themselves are. It is a beautiful story about what it means to find your place in this world and how your perceptions of yoruself shape your relationships with others.
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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.
“She would always be living her life backwards, she realized, trying to regain something perfect that she'd lost.” 15 likes
“You stand next to the sea and you're in touch with all your longings and all your losses.” 13 likes
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