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Reproduction

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3.42  ·  Rating details ·  579 ratings  ·  106 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
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Published March 5th 2019 by Audible Studios
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Average rating 3.42  · 
Rating details
 ·  579 ratings  ·  106 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
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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
Krista
Nov 24, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, can-con
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
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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
Jill S
Oct 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, canadian
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
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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
Allison ༻hikes the bookwoods༺
An unusual story of family that I found difficult to get through. I really struggled with the style towards the end of the book. I’m sure it’s quite clever (the Giller jury sure seemed to like it), but I just wasn’t interested enough to give it due consideration.
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
Jess
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
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❀ Susan G
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-reads
Sadly, I missed attending the Scotiabank Giller Between the Pages event and was not as engaged in the short-listed books. With some downtime this week, I tackled the 446 page novel which intertwined the lives of Felicia and Edgar who met at the hospital as both of their mother's were dying. over 3 decades, these two led separate but blended lives filled with many other interesting characters, challenges, poor choices and struggles. A strong message is that family is not always DNA.

I would have
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MargaretDH
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
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Bree
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?
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
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Dawn
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.
Kara
Jan 17, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this might’ve been a good book but I also think it needed more from me than I felt like giving it. Lots of really interesting stylistic stuff going on in this book, some of it worked more for me than others. There was a section in the middle that had an incredible flow that made it almost impossible to put the book down until the section was completely finished. The middle was definitely the best part of the book for me. I would recommend this book to others not necessarily because I ...more
Cicely Blain
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Truly a fascinating book. A little hard to get into at first and sometimes the experimentation with form really threw me off but honestly I felt so enraptured by the characters. Such a beautiful, raw, real portrayal of human beings and a refreshing perspective on unconventional family structures. I feel as though Williams' experimentation with language, grammar and structure are actually revolutionary and so bold that I would recommend reading it just to have the experience of your world view ...more
Alison Hardtmann
Felicity and Edgar meet when their mothers are assigned to the same room, in a Toronto hospital that is dealing with being flooded. One mother lives, the other does not. Felicity and Edgar develop a relationship based on a combination of need, compassion, and a willingness to take advantage. This is not a love story.

Years later, Felicity and her son are renting the downstairs portion of a split level home in a diverse neighborhood. Army is determined to make his fortune. His landlord and
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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
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Louise
Nov 16, 2019 rated it liked it
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.
Karan
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The most inventive, funny, true books I've read in awhile. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Laura
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
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:
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Marni
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.
Mary
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.
Rhea Tregebov
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Astonishing moving story by an astonishing writer.
Nadia L. Hohn
This was supposed to be a book I read on my kindle while on the treadmill at the gym but it quickly became a book that I would real while curled up under the covers. I began reading this book weeks ago so that when the recent $100,000 Giller Prize announcement was made, I was like “ha ha ha”, I’m already reading it. The book was written in a format that I am not quite familiar with. Knowing Ian William’s background as a professor of poetry, he applies some of that approach in Reproduction with ...more
Keely Langford
Character work was excellently done. You don’t “love” anyone, but damn, they’re real.
I like a multi-generational novel, and I appreciate that this one is about “people fall[ing] into other people’s arms” and that family isn’t necessarily about the DNA. So why form constraints and mathematical structure on to it all mirroring the 23 genes? The replicating to cancer? I don’t feel these experiments added to the overall theme, so I don’t appreciate slogging through the effort for the sake of a
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Laurie W
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. The form of this book is unique and interesting, and complements the title. However it makes some parts of the story difficult to access, as does the vernacular dialogue. The entire book is made up of conversations and feels almost like watching a play. The characters are not particularly lovable but the premise of “family” having a loose definition resonates and feels authentic.
Ann-Marie
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, oh-canada
The style of the writing is tough to describe - many random approaches like past conversations artfully repeated in subtext, some chapters written like dialogue in a play, others read as expected. Williams is a poet who adds his own style along with his story. This is a book you’ll want to discuss, many embedded themes about culture, class roles and especially how history repeats itself. Well deserved of the Giller!
Tyler
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is innovative and beautiful. Someone in another review said it wasn't as good as an Elizabeth Gilbert book, a comment that makes me want to eat my own hands. So I'm here to tell you it's fresh and unpredictable and experimental in the very best way! One character is very hateful -- and if you actually reflect on how well this author makes you dislike a main character, you realize the mastery of the writing. Thank you and good night.
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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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