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3.50  ·  Rating details ·  238 ratings  ·  49 reviews
A hilarious, surprising and poignant love story about the way families are invented, told with the savvy of a Zadie Smith and with an inventiveness all Ian Williams' own, Reproduction bangs lives together in a polyglot suburb of Toronto.

Felicia and Edgar meet as their mothers are dying. Felicia, a teen from an island nation, and Edgar, the lazy heir of a wealthy German
Paperback, 464 pages
Expected publication: May 5th 2020 by Europa Editions
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Average rating 3.50  · 
Rating details
 ·  238 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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David Yoon
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This Giller shortlisted book opens with 23 sections, alternating between 19 year old Felicia Shaw from an undisclosed Caribbean island and Edgar Gross, an affluent, middle-aged German, heir to some vague family interest. They meet in a shared hospital room, tending to their respective mothers who are both near death.

The 23 sections represent the number of chromosome pairs found in DNA. From there the novel begins to reproduce. Part 2 jumps ahead a few years and we alternate between 4 voices
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
This wasn't the kind of book for me at this time, unfortunately. Williams experiments with many different writing styles- there are diary entries (that solidify the strong dislike for Edgar), charts, poems, sections that could be described as rapping, and other disjointed styles of storytelling. I tried to give it breathing space, but a strong dislike of Edgar and his treatment of Felicia -- a love story you can't call this? There was also too great a shift of time to introducing Army. There was ...more
Nov 24, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: can-con, 2019
At first, Army was 99 percent sure, then 98 percent sure, and now he was down to 96 percent sure that he couldn't be the father. It was biologically impossible from what he understood about reproduction. He would have had to had had, have had to had had, sex.

Ian Williams is an award-winning poet and that fact is totally apparent in his first novel, Reproduction: word choices are precise and often surprising; he plays (repeatedly) with structure; and I constantly had the feeling that something
Barbara McEwen
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
A story of family, an unconventional family, maybe, but that is what makes it interesting. My library stuck a "people" sticker on it and I agree, it is totally about the characters and their relationships. They are not all likeable characters, one is completely unlikeable, but it's part of the story and real life has unlikeable characters. The author tries out a lot of interesting/unique writing styles and I was mostly on board, but it did feel like he was playing a bit much. I had fun though ...more
Natasha Penney
Such a disappointing book. There was an interesting narrative style, but a little way in even that failed to entertain. The downfall for me was in the characters themselves. I admired Felicia initially. Then I felt sorry for her. Then I became annoyed. I wanted better for her, and it was frustrating to want that when you realize she doesn’t want it for her own life. So as a reader you realize you’re settling in for a slow slide to a predictable ending. Egdar? I haven’t felt such a visceral ...more
This was not the book for me, although I'm glad it's out there. I have some thoughts.

The Style and Structure: this is the kind of book that I think makes some people wrinkle their nose about post-modern literature. Williams is experimental, using short viewpoint chapters, series of conversations between unidentified characters, and longer sections with superscript and subscript additions to the narration to delineate subtext and memory. I thought this was well-executed, and thought the
Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, canadian
I actually laughed out loud at a few lines from this book! Creative writing at it’s finest.

The last section of the book, was a bit slower for me. The author did such a wonderful job at pegging family drama, and to suggest what is family?
Nia Forrester
This one, I think, would have gotten five stars from me just because of its sheer ambitiousness. I'm not a fan of experimental fiction, and frankly would probably not have requested this from NetGalley if I knew that's what this was. But, surprisingly, it worked for me on just about every level: superb character development, an intriguing premise, mind-blowingly courageous, and filled with humor, insight and multiple levels of emotional resonance. It also didn't hurt that there were subtle ...more
Anne Logan
Reproduction by Ian Williams, shortlisted for the 2019 Giller Prize is a quirky read. Aside from this book being PAINFULLY LONG, I enjoyed it. It plays with lots of things: format, timelines, even phrasing. That being said, I’m a reader who doesn’t like freaky-deaky experimentation in my books, but I still found this story readable. Plus I love Ian Wiliams himself, I once attended an event where he spoke and it was fantastic.

There are a few things that will trip you up in this book, but it doesn
Jill S
Oct 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian, fiction

Reproduction is much more an exploration of form than narrative. The structure of the book itself reproduces: Part 1 in 23 sections to represent 23 chromosomes; Part 2 told by 4 people in 4 parts = 16; Part 3: 16x16 = 256; Part 4 = the story develops cancer and parts of the previous sections bleed into the text, the past a cancer on the present.

I have to say that I found the format of this book compelling, even if it does inhibit the book from having an overarching connecting narrative. I
df parizeau
Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm honestly rather speechless after reading this book and I'm not entirely sure how or where to start unpacking my thoughts.

This book is a merciless deconstruction of a reader's expectations; whether we are talking from a structural standpoint or from that of the characters' story arcs. I'm not entirely sure one can simply read this book once and understand everything that is at stake.

Perhaps the most genius element of the book is hinted at in the title. Reproduction, both in the biological and
Worse audiobook production EVER. The sound was faulty and the three narrators read like robots. Where is Robin Miles when you need her. It really made this otherwise interesting book, quite awful.
Ben Truong
Reproduction is a standalone contemporary debut novel written by Ian Williams. It centers on an unconventional family from its inception towards the end where child meet estranged father. It a beautiful, hilarious, and occasionally heart-breaking story about the way family shape our lives, for better or for worse. It has been short-listed for the 2019 Toronto Book Awards.

Set between the late 1970s and the present day, Reproduction begins at the point at which most families also get their start:
I hate to give this such a low star rating but I really didn't like it. I read 6 chapters, skipped ahead and read bits and pieces all the way to the end. Nothing caught my attention and made me think I should read it all.
So, this is one of those stories I don't finish.
Reproduction is outstanding! As in, I will be out standing around telling everyone to read this book. I work in a library. There's a lot of people to tell.

I LOVE the way Williams writes. I laughed out loud so many times and found myself often surprised. I love the way he constructs this narrative. Stories are told and retold and revised and sort of told and most importantly, not told.

I love these flawed and wounded characters and the truths they embody. I love Army's dry wit and Felicia's stoic
Jul 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A most unusual writing style. There is narrative, but it is interspersed with conversation that goes around and around and is mixed with pieces of previous narrative. It was a little difficult to get into, but then I didn't want to put it down. This was recommended in a letter to the editor of Walrus magazine as an example of a non-Caucasian Canadian writer.
Rhea Tregebov
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Astonishing moving story by an astonishing writer.
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this novel up because it is short listed for the Canadian Giller Prize to be awarded in the fall of 2019. I try to read as many of the nominees as I can, at least from the short list.

The way Williams constructed this book is probably what is causing the most fuss. It is very unique and of the kind that will be discussed and dissected by advanced English majors at universities across the country. I can't even begin to describe it other than to say the construct is a character unto itself
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best literary fiction books I have read in a long time. Conversational and real, interestingly formatted. Dynamic and evolving characters. Feels like reading real life. This is how people actually live. Refreshing, loved every page.
Reproduction is a offbeat work of fiction about how families are drawn together through varying circumstances. Felicia and Edgar meet and spend their lives interacting often in spite of themselves. Reproduction is Ian William’s debut novel and the winner of the 2019 Giller Prize.

Felicia and Edgar meet in the hospital where both of their mothers are critically ill. Felicia’s mother dies and she is forced to quit school and look after Edgar’s mother. Edgar proves to be lazy and cruel, but the
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
As I started to get into this book, my main impression was that it is very Giller-prize-y. So then I realized that I have a hot take on what makes book-prize-books feel similar: they're like vegetable side dishes. The great ones can be richly creative, decadent, filling and satisfying, and the mediocre ones can be bitter or bland or mushy or just leave you hungry and cold, but they all make you feel like you've done something virtuous and nourishing and self-improving by reading them. They're ...more
Nov 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars
“Reproduction” is a book to love or hate. Love because its universality touches the nerve center of the reader, but also hate because it is so difficult to separate content from form which causes frustration in those who like their reading to be linear. The book is almost like a big stitched crazy quilt - a generational mash-up of a family story or what really constitutes family in 2019. This particular version of family begins with Edgar and Felicia in the seventies when they encounter
Enid Wray
I just could not get into this book. I am bailing on this one… far too many other things on my pile that I’m excited about diving into... not that I wasn't excited at the prospect of reading this! I was...

I’m really not sure what it is about it that is not resonating with me. It could just be the weird head-space I’m in right now… I think I should be liking this more than I am! But I’m not. I think part of my issue is the passivity of the narration that is keeping me at arm’s length from the
Jennie Chantal
May 24, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
2.5 stars

I really liked the first 1/3-1/2 of this book that focused mostly on Felicia/Edgar and baby Army, but around the point Army grew up it started to drag for me. In the end I forced myself to finish it, which I rarely do. If a book isn't working for me I put it down; there are so many other books to read! But I wanted something from the story and was obviously hoping I'd get it in the end.

Thinking about it now, a few days after finishing it, I realize that I became so annoyed and angry
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4 1/2 stars

Williams' thorny characters form shifting variations of family units based on amorphous commitments to fidelity and truth. Their coupling, uncoupling and blending emulate the growth and changes of the human body at the cellular level, which Williams in turn emulates with challenging configurations of language and storytelling. Somewhat surprisingly, the novel is an unconventional page-turner.
Nov 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a slow start for me. The writing style made me feel disconnected from the story, but it slowly took hold of me until I found myself thinking about the characters while going about my daily business. This book is epic in scope in that it spans 30+ years but the characters are not epic. They are mundane people living the lives before them and not always managing to do their best. They're not always likeable, but they're always interesting.
4.5 stars. A moving and creatively written family saga that springs from an unusual friendship between a middle-aged German man and a young woman from "a small unknown island." Humorous, heart-wrenching and beautifully creative, this is another deserving contender for the 2019 Giller Prize, my favourite so far. I think the stream-of-consciousness style was a bit overdone, especially in the last section, but this is a fabulous and fun read overall.
Sarah S
Oct 28, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to love this book. I was intrigued by the description of the plot. Sadly, I had a hard time getting into this book. The writing was very experimental and I can appreciate what the author was attempting to create. However, as a writing teacher, I just couldn't get through this novel without proper dialogue punctuation. There were sections in the novel where I honestly was completely confused as to what was happening. It made for a difficult read. I was unable to finish this book.
Oct 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Reproduction” is written in three main parts. The first almost had me punt the book. I found it hard to follow who was speaking, and it reminded me of how much I disliked “The Polished Hoe”. The middle part grabbed me, though, and then the last third limped to the finish. I like the idea of this novel, following characters over many years, an unconventional family of people thrown together by circumstance, but the flourishes of literary technique kept me at a distance.
This is getting there stars just because I can't make up my mind about how to feel about it. On one hand I became quite attached to the characters, on the other there were sections of the book that were just frustrating to read. It was enjoyable to read something with a style you don't see everyday until I found myself in spots where I was wondering what the beck was going on, which happened often. I loved it and hated it all at the same time. So three stars it is.
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Ian Williams is the author of Personals, shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize and the Robert Kroetsch Poetry Book Award; Not Anyone’s Anything, winner of the Danuta Gleed Literary Award for the best first collection of short fiction in Canada; and You Know Who You Are, a finalist for the ReLit Prize for poetry. He was named as one of ten Canadian writers to watch by CBC.

Williams completed his
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