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House of Anansi Press


Written by Gil Adamson

Published May 12, 2020 | ISBN 9781487006563

Cover of Ridgerunner

Regular price $32.95 CAD

456 pages | 8.2 in × 5.3 in
Print Format

Also Available as an Ebook

About this book


Gil Adamson

Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize Winner

Scotiabank Giller Prize Finalist

Part literary Western and part historical mystery, Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize winner Ridgerunner is now available as a paperback.

November 1917. William Moreland is in mid-flight. After nearly twenty years, the notorious thief, known as the Ridgerunner, has returned. Moving through the Rocky Mountains and across the border to Montana, the solitary drifter, impoverished in means and aged beyond his years, is also a widower and a father. And he is determined to steal enough money to secure his son’s future.

Twelve-year-old Jack Boulton has been left in the care of Sister Beatrice, a formidable nun who keeps him in cloistered seclusion in her grand old house. Though he knows his father is coming for him, the boy longs to return to his family’s cabin, deep in the woods. When Jack finally breaks free, he takes with him something the nun is determined to get back — at any cost.

Set against the backdrop of a distant war raging in Europe and a rapidly changing landscape in the West, Gil Adamson’s follow-up to her award-winning debut, The Outlander, is a vivid historical novel that draws from the epic tradition and a literary Western brimming with a cast of unforgettable characters touched with humour and loss, and steeped in the wild of the natural world.

About the Author

Gil Adamson

GIL ADAMSON is the critically acclaimed author of Ridgerunner, which won the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and was named a best book of the year by the Globe and Mail and the CBC. Her first novel, The Outlander, won the Dashiell Hammett Prize for Literary Excellence in Crime Writing, the First Novel Award, the ReLit Award, and the Drummer General’s Award. It was a finalist for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, CBC Canada Reads, and the Prix Femina in France; longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; and chosen as a Globe and Mail and Washington Post Top 100 Book. She is also the author of a collection of linked stories, Help Me, Jacques Cousteau, and two poetry collections, Primitive and Ashland. She lives in Toronto.

Awards and Praise


Winner, Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize

Finalist, Scotiabank Giller Prize 

National Bestseller

A Globe and Mail Top 100 Book of the Year

A CBC Best Book of the Year

An Apple Best Book of the Year

A Kobo Best Book of the Year

#1 Loan Stars Best of the Brightest

“The long-awaited sequel to Gil Adamson’s hit The Outlander moves the action forward a decade, returning the thirteen-year-old son of the original protagonists to a forested land into which prisoners of the First World War are now hewing roads. The proximity of this new type of outlaw presents an existential threat to young Jack, who takes refuge in his parents’ abandoned shack with a price on his head after escaping the toxic hypocrisies of ‘civilization.’ Drawing richly on both the Western and on gothic fiction, Adamson evokes a mythic landscape to frame the question: how is it possible to live a good life, when obedience to man-made laws is so at odds with love, loyalty, and respect for the natural world?” — Scotiabank Giller Prize Jury Citation

“Gil Adamson’s Ridgerunner sinks readers into a Wild West never before seen in an adventure as sprawling and impeccably rendered as the land itself — a scrupulously researched, evocative landscape that shapes the spaces, both interior and exterior, of those who live there as well as the dangerous ties that bind them. Through the eyes of an infamous thief and the twelve-year-old son for whom he is searching, Adamson explores notions of good and evil as ubiquitous as gun smoke and just as nebulous, along with the reminder that all which is fought for comes at a cost.” — Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize Jury Citation

“Part literary Western, part historical mystery, it’s a vivid story that grabs you by the eyeballs on page one.” — Globe and Mail

Ridgerunner is truly magnificent. It hearkens back to when novels were generous and ambitious, big-shouldered and big-hearted. Gil Adamson writes worlds utterly unto their own.” — Robert Olmstead, award-winning author of Coal Black Horse and Savage Country

“In Gil Adamson’s Ridgerunner we meet thirteen-year-old Jack Boulton, whose quest — perhaps foolish, certainly dangerous — is to be reunited with his only living family member, his father. A beautiful and moving novel about the durability of family ties, Ridgerunner is a brilliant literary achievement, and in Jack Boulton, Adamson has created one of the most vividly rendered children you will ever encounter in fiction. I loved every page of it.” — Michael Redhill, Scotiabank Giller Prize–winning author of Bellevue Square

“Gil Adamson understands the pain and the necessary beauty of our connection with other people better than anyone. Ferocious, entirely authentic, funny, and tragic, Ridgerunner is a wild adventure spun in exalted prose: the book I’ve been wanting to read for years.” — Marina Endicott, award-winning author of Good to a Fault and The Difference

“[The characters] are so real, the time and place so convincing, and most importantly, the story captivating to the core.” —Jon Mayes, Advance Reading Copy

“I have just finished reading Ridgerunner by Gil Adamson, a novel that left me deeply satisfied and savouring the experience of reading a really good book . . . A great story and a wonderfully written novel.” — Metro North Bay-Nippissing

“Adamson writes with a sly wit and a deep insight into her characters and the natural world but, more significantly, into how the characters and the natural world interact, shaping and being shaped by one another . . . Everything packs a significant punch and draws the reader into the novel’s world with a startling immediacy.” — Quill & Quire

“Striking . . . Once again, Adamson’s powers as a poet weave her characters deeply into the natural world.” — Georgia Straight

“Rich and exciting . . . delightful, sinewy language that takes time with the details of the moment, of humour and whimsy . . . Adamson’s writing soars.” — Hamilton Review of Books


Winner, in Canada First Novel Award

Winner, Dashiell Hammett Prize for Literary Excellence in Crime Writing

Winner, ReLit Award

Winner, Drummer General’s Award

Finalist, Trillium Book Award

Finalist, Commonwealth Writers’ Prize

Finalist, CBC Canada Reads

A Globe and Mail Book of the Year

“Gil Adamson’s first novel bolts off the opening page . . . An absorbing adventure from a Canadian poet and short story writer who knows how to keep us enthralled . . . A strikingly pensive novel, anchored by the stark beauty of its setting and the harsh wisdom of its narrator . . . Adamson is as captivating with descriptions of vast mountain ranges as she is with the smaller calamities . . . Her story will unsettle your dreams just the same.” — Washington Post

The Outlander, a strikingly good first novel by the Canadian poet Gil Adamson . . . reads like a pastiche Western with elements of supernatural grotesquerie out of Stephen King or even The X-Files . . . The author writes well on the supernatural chill of the Canadian outback at nightfall.” — Spectator

“Striking, thoughtful, full of unexpected twists, The Outlander is that rare delight: a novel that is beautifully written yet as gripping as any airport page-turner . . . Adamson, a Toronto-based poet, must possess either an impressive collection of reference books or a powerful imagination — or both . . . This is a serious, literary book that moves far beyond genre or gender stereotypes.” — Guardian

“A gorgeous surprise of a book . . . Stylish and compelling, this novel about a woman’s picaresque flight from and toward justice is both elegant in shape and exquisitely written. A powerful and wonderful imagination blossoms here.” — Globe and Mail

“Throughout the novel, Adamson’s keen eye for detail and mastery of language are much in evidence in her descriptions of the natural surroundings.” — Winnipeg Free Press

“The prose style of The Outlander is rich with natural details and metaphors. These descriptive ingredients are like cornstarch, serving to thicken the narrative and impart a glaze-like surface to the main dish. Because of its strong narrative line . . . and Adamson’s true poet’s eye for metaphors and details that work, The Outlander is a superior example of the [Gothic] genre.” — Toronto Star

“Adamson’s writing is superb.” — Maclean’s

“Impeccably shaped, wonderfully written . . . pure aesthetic beauty . . . A picaresque tour de force.” — Calgary Herald

The Outlander is a riveting tale of a woman’s thirst for freedom.” — Entertainment Weekly

“One of those books so gorgeous in the writing that you simultaneously can’t wait to read what happens next and want to savour the beauty of the writing.” — Herald Tribune

“For readers who want a cracking good story with unforgettable characters engaged in tension-filled activities, and told with a superlative richness of language and a lushness of imagery, Gil Adamson’s novel, The Outlander, is it. Her widow, Mary Boulton, and Bonny, her Reverend, are the ideal stuff and stuffings of legends.”— January Magazine

“As novels go, The Outlander should qualify for Great Canadian status . . . Described by author Gil Adamson herself as ‘literary gothic western,’ The Outlander is perhaps the only book of this genre, but it seems at home among such Canadian classics as Susanna Moodie’s Roughing it in the Bush [and] Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace.” — Fast Forward Weekly

“Mary Boulton is one of the most memorable characters in Canadian literature in years.” — Nuvo Magazine

“Gil Adamson has chiselled her characters, polished every word, and turned The Outlander into something magical . . . Adamson’s characters are fully formed, described with nuances and details that make us feel that we really know them. And her writing is beautiful — poetic, descriptive, lyrical . . . This is a book that lingers in the mind long after the final page has been read.” — Guelph Mercury

“In the tradition of Guy Vanderhaeghe, this is a dark novel with a long finish. It should age well.” — Sun Times

“This uncommon first novel by Gil Adamson combines a thrilling adventure story with polished literary technique.” — Canadian Literature

“This is an old-fashioned adventure story — with a dark fairy-tale element.” — Financial Times

“Adamson is an impressive stylist.” — Quill & Quire

“[A] compelling debut . . . Lean prose, full-bodied characterization, memorable settings and scenes of hardship all lift this book above the pack.” — Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

The Outlander deserves to be read twice, first for the plot and the complex characters which make this a page-turner of the highest order, and then a second time, slowly, to savour the marvel of Gil Adamson’s writing. This novel is a true wonder.” — Ann Patchett, PEN/Faulkner Prize–winning author of Bel Canto

“A remarkable first novel, full of verve, beautifully written, and with all the panache of a great adventure.” — Michael Ondaatje, Man Booker Prize–winning author of The English Patient

“Gil Adamson’s The Outlander is, simply enough, a superb novel, and one senses in the fine writing the potential, or perhaps the eventuality, of a major writer. The frayed material of the North American West is rendered in astonishingly fresh light. The Outlander is also suspenseful to a degree that you are often in a state of physical unrest, a condition only occasioned by first-rate fiction.” — Jim Harrison, author of Legends of the Fall

“[A] great read — a masterful combination of story and prose style.” — David Wroblewski, author of Oprah’s Book Club pick The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

“This remarkable novel opens at full gallop and never slows. Adamson has seamlessly merged a compelling narrative with poetic language to create a work that is full of beauty and heart and wonder.” — Ron Rash, author of PEN/Faulkner Prize finalist Serena

  • Short-listed Scotiabank Giller Prize, 2020
  • Winner Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, 2020