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The House on Selkirk Avenue

The House on Selkirk Avenue

By Irena Karafilly

It is autumn, 1997 and Kate Thuringer is back in her hometown to help her college-age daughter settle into her new life. A professional photographer, Kate has lived in Western Canada for nearly three decades. Before her marriage, however, she survived a turbulent year in which Québécois terrorists kidnapped a British diplomat and murdered an innocent politician. The middle-aged Kate is obsessed with the past, particularly with the memory of a poor francophone student with whom she had been involved during the historic October Crisis. Back in Montreal, she is plunged into a mid-life crisis, struggling to reconcile her romantic past and her melancholy present. The House on Selkirk Avenue is a complex novel about obsessive love, family bonds, aging, and the impact of political events on innocent people's lives.


Guernica Editions (Essential Prose Series)


285 pages |

Regular price $17.95 USD
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A fascinating, subtle and very timely novel. -- Stephen Vizinczey

I read The House on Selkirk Avenue at a sitting and enjoyed it hugely … brilliant opening chapters and wonderful ending. I loved the way Kate skirts around the idea of meeting Guillaume throughout the whole book … Very clever, the way the photography comes into its own. Congratulations!

Nina Bawden

Kate Thuringer, about to turn fifty, finds herself 'reluctant to surrender to the prose of life.' Set against a vividly rendered Montreal, the collision of Kate’s past and present sends out sparks in all directions, threatening Kate’s future while at the same time illuminating the dilemma that faces many of us as we age. A terrific read.

Jane Juska

A complex and compelling story, written with great skill. The author has brought her city as well as her main character to vivid life, so that the reader can share her internal struggle while enjoying the melancholy splendors of a Montreal autumn. Karafilly has woven her story into the October Crisis of 1970, giving a new perspective to those events. I am sure that the book, when it appears, will attract much praise and many readers.

William Weintraub

The House on Selkirk Avenue evokes the political fervour and sizzling eroticism of Montreal during the War Measures Act. Playing with the Romeo-Juliet trope, Karafilly situates her Anglo/Franco lovers in the hothouse atmosphere of Quebec politics as the FLQ crisis unfolds. Thirty years later, her nostalgic heroine must reconcile the conflicting realities of her youthful past and her melancholy present. A rich, memorable read.

Anne Henderson

The House on Selkirk Avenue finds its heroine looking back three decades to the unresolved end of a relationship with an aspiring musician.

Montreal Gazette

What Karafilly has done is to give us a window on the emotional turmoil that questioning brings.

Ottawa Review of Books


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About the author

Irena Karafilly is an award-winning Montreal writer, poet, and aphorist. She is the author of several acclaimed books and of numerous stories, poems, and articles, which have been published in both literary and consumer magazines, as well as in newspapers such as the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune. Some of her stories have been anthologized and/or broadcast, winning literary prizes such as the National Magazine Award and the CBC Literary Award. For more information, please visit: