By: Sarah MacLachlan, President and Publisher of House of Anansi Press
It is a sad day at House of Anansi as we mark the death of Graeme Gibson. Graeme has been an Anansi author and friend since the early days, and we deeply treasure our relationship with him.
In 1969, Dennis Lee, co-founder and publisher of Anansi, acquired the rights to Graeme’s groundbreaking first novel, Five Legs. “That April, Anansi published what might be considered its signature novel [Five Legs]: quirky, demanding, unnervingly comic, and startlingly fresh for its time and place,” wrote Roy MacSkimming in his pamphlet history of the press, Making Literary History. According to MacSkimming, “There was an indelibly Upper Canadian quality to its guilt-ridden angst, yet something triumphant about Gibson’s success in getting that peculiarly self-tortured, hitherto unheard voice down on paper. Gibson had been writing the novel for nine years, and Lee worked closely with him, practically moving into his living room to wrestle with the tricky structure and dense texture. On publication, the book made an immediate impact. In the Globe and Mail, the praise of literary editor William French was uncharacteristically lavish: ‘Five Legs, I have no hesitation in saying, is the most interesting first novel by a Canadian to be published in many years.’”
Graeme remained a friend to Anansi over the past fifty-plus years, and we remain admirers and advocates of his literary work. He was a lovely and generous man. He will be missed.
We send love and condolences to Margaret, Jess, Matthew, and Grae