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Passing Ceremony

Written by Helen Weinzweig

Introduction by Jim Polk

  • 128 Pages
  • 9781487002626
  • 8.5" x 5.5"
  • FICTION / Literary



Publication Date August 26, 2017

In this brilliant debut novel by Helen Weinzweig, the award-winning author of Basic Black With Pearls, a wedding reception becomes a gothic dream in which the bride, groom, family, and guests struggle with private obsessions, guilty fantasies of sex and power, and the constant failure of love. The bride is not all she seems and there is something ambiguous about the groom — and about everyone else at the surreal and strangely moving wedding.

Like a piece of music, Passing Ceremony is composed of brief, suggestive fragments that grow into a tightly integrated whole. There are bits of real and imagined conversation; polite dialogues that slide into mad comic banality; and scenes that could be quiet nightmares out of Borges.

A satire and a rueful mediation on the ways people hurt one another, Weinzweig gives us a world suspended in time, an uneasy territory of the soul, which we all inhabit.

This edition features a new introduction by Jim Polk.


Helen Weinzweig

Helen Weinzweig is the author of the novels Passing Ceremony and Basic Black with Pearls, winner of the Toronto Book Award. Her short story collection, A View from the Roof, was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction. Helen Weinzweig died in Toronto in 2010.

Jim Polk


Praise for Passing Ceremony and Helen Weinzweig:

“A remarkable piece of writing.” — Toronto Star

“Polished, forceful, and poetic.” — Ottawa Citizen

“An unmistakable signature of a true artist.” — Books In Canada

“Handled with skill.” — Chatelaine

“A brilliant first work of fiction.” — Edmonton Journal

“Challenging and sophisticated.” — Quarry

Praise for Basic Black with Pearls and Helen Weinzweig:

Toronto Book Award Winner

“Thirty-five years after its initial publication and a hundred years since Weinzweig’s birth, Basic Black with Pearls is getting an admirable posthumous reissue via House of Anansi’s A-List series, asserting its relevance decades after it won the 1981 Toronto Book Award.” — Globe and Mail

“I must concede that Basic Black with Pearls is so good as to have been well worth the exhilarating wait.” — National Post

“[Basic Black With Pearls] is being rediscovered and acclaimed as a milestone in the history of Canadian women writers.” — Toronto Star

“Glittering, uncomfortable, one-of-a-kind fiction . . . a daydream-spectacular, heavy on scenes from a rotten childhood and lightly dipped in madness — all of it delivered with spotlight-sharp images and iron-grey wit.” — Kirkus Reviews

“A funny and smart feminist classic that begs for rediscovery.” — 49th Shelf

Praise for A View From the Roof and Helen Weinzweig:

Finalist, Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction

“A neat juggling of actuality and surreality is one of the things that makes [Helen Weinzweig] such an extraordinary writer.” — Globe and Mail