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No Safeguards

No Safeguards

By H. Nigel Thomas

No Safeguards, the first in a trilogy, follows Jay and his brother Paul from childhood to young adulthood. We witness the destructive impact of fundamentalist Christian beliefs on their mother and father, opposition to those beliefs by the boys' grandmother and each boy's very different response to their parents' religiosity. This becomes even more poignant after they leave their grandmother's comfortable home in St. Vincent to join their mother in Montreal. The revelation that both boys are gay adds to their sense of oppression and divides them from their mother, whose views are shaped by the church and the theology of the Torah.


Guernica Editions (Essential Prose Series)


375 pages |

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Nigel Thomas' ... understanding of the many histories and their various impacts on literary characters reveals a profound knowledge of the human condition. A compelling, layered, and persuasive work. - Rawi Hage

No Safeguards is meant to be the first book in a trilogy, and the end of it feels like a beginning. It is a testament to H. Nigel Thomas’s storytelling that the reader is left wanting to see where the brothers will go next.

Maple Tree Literary Supplement

No Safeguards is filled with wonderful scenes of island life, made alive by the use of colourful dialect and vivid characters—Grama, in particular, is a force of nature. A tangible sense of pathos is present in several other characters as well … The poignancy of these lives remains and one comes away with an appreciation of the strength of these two boys, now men, who have experienced so much yet retained a commitment to each other that cannot be broken.

Ottawa Review of Books

Thomas … wields his narration with all the vulnerability of an open bruise: through the intertwined perspectives of Jay and Paul, several communities clash and converge, each desperately doing what they believe is right. Between Montreal and St. Vincent lies the emotional freight of many worlds. Thomas reveals them to us, showing in sensitive prose that return journeys, in either direction, often cost their weight in bribes, guilt, and Hail Marys.

Nigel Thomas’ writing merits serious notice. His understanding of the many histories and their various impacts on literary characters reveals a profound knowledge of the human condition. This novel traces the lives and migrations of a family and their interrelationships, as well as the devastating effects of religious and political intolerance and their destructive residue on human consciousness. A compelling, layered, and persuasive work.

Rawi Hage, Winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award


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About the author

H. Nigel Thomas grew up in St Vincent and the Grenadines but moved to Montreal in 1968. He is the author of 11 books and dozens of essays. His novels Spirits in the Dark and No Safeguards were shortlisted for the Quebec Writers Federation Hugh MacLennan Fiction Prize. Des vies Cassées (the translation of Lives: Whole and Otherwise) was shortlisted for le Prix Carbet des Lycéens. He holds the 2000 Professional of the Year Jackie Robinson Award, the 2013 Université Laval’s Hommage aux créateurs, and the 2020 Black Theatre Workshop’s Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award. The Canadian High Commission to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean States deems him to be one of Canada’s outstanding immigrants from St Vincent and the Grenadines. His books Behind the Face of Winter and Lives: Whole and Otherwise have been translated into French.