05/29/2012 09:13 am ET Updated May 29, 2012

The Book We're Talking About: 'Canada' By Richard Ford

"Canada" by Richard Ford
Ecco, $27.99
Published on May 15, 2012

What is it about?

The lives of a fifteen-year-old protagonist Dell and his twin sister Berner are forever changed when their typically law-obliging parents are arrested for robbing a bank. Berner flees, and Dell finds himself in Canada, where he attempts to recreate himself in a vast prairie.

Why are we talking about it?

We're fans of Richard Ford and the gruff, lyrical nature of his work. While we appreciate new approaches to fiction, it's refreshing to revisit realism.

Who wrote it?

Richard Ford is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "The Sportswriter" and "Independence Day." He has mild dyslexia, but says this has assisted him as a book-lover because he is able to read slowly and thoughtfully. This is his first novel in six years.

Who will read it?

Fans of stories concerning the lower-middle class, fans of lean language, those looking to read seasoned writers.

What do the reviewers say?

Los Angeles Times: "For Ford, the diffusion of narrative tension opens up another, more essential tension — that of a character coming to resolution with himself."

The Guardian: "In this new book, he writes with deliberate flatness, eschewing stylistic flourishes – except when describing North American landscapes – so that Dell speaks in the cadences of a permanently damaged spirit. Listening to him, sentence by careful sentence, is like watching a car-crash survivor making his way along a hospital corridor, step by careful step."

The Daily Beast: "The novel isn’t perfect, and the bit of back-story that Ford uses to move the book toward its climax seems mishandled, a MacGuffin that’s too busy for its own good. But no matter; plot has never been what his work is really about."

Impress your friends:

Ironically, this dark novel about identity confusion, theft, murder and place is set in Saskatchewan, Canada's sunniest region.

Opening line:

"First, I'll tell you about the robbery our parents committed."

Notable passage:

"We'd played chess, watched The Untouchables, Ernie Kovacs, the news. I'd mowed the lawn and observed the bees working on the zinnias beside the garage. We'd sat on the porch swing at night and watched the sky-glow. I'd heard noises from the state fair, then going on not far from our house--the announcer's loudspeaker voice at the Wild West Rodeo and the chuck wagon race, the cheering crowd. A calliope. A man's amplified voice laughing."