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The Antagonist

Written by Lynn Coady

  • 352 Pages
  • 9781770891043
  • FICTION / Literary



Publication Date June 09, 2012

Winner of the 2012 Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction and shortlisted for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

A finalist for the prestigious Scotiabank Giller Prize, and named one of the best books of the year by Amazon, the Globe and Mail, and the Toronto Star, The Antagonist tells the story of Gordon Rankin ("Rank"), a former hockey enforcer driven to seek revenge on a old friend who has published a novel revealing Rank's deepest secret.

The hulking Gordon Rankin has spent his life cast as an enforcer, a goon — by his classmates, his coaches, and especially his own father, Gordon Senior, an unfortunate victim of small man syndrome. Rank duly accepts his role and spends the majority of his high school and university years implementing the violent commands of others. Until one day tragedy strikes, with only Rank to blame. With nobody to turn to, he disappears.

But almost twenty years later Rank discovers that an old, trusted friend — the only person to whom he has ever confessed his sins — has published a novel mirroring Rank's life. The betrayal cuts to the deepest core of him, and forces Rank to confront the tragic true story from which he's spent his whole life running. A diatribe, a prayer, an ode to what it means to be a man, Rank's painful, suspenseful, and often hilarious journey grabs us by the throat and the heart and never lets us go. This is Rank's turn to finally set the record straight.

Winner of the Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction 2012

Short-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize 2011

Selected for the Best Books: Editors' Pick 2011

Selected for the Best Books: Canadian Fiction 2011

Selected for the Globe and Mail Top 100 Book 2011

Selected for the Toronto Star Reviewers' Top 100 Books 2011

Selected for the Washington Post Top 100 Noteable Books 2013


Lynn Coady

Lynn Coady is a novelist and essayist whose fiction has been garnering acclaim since her first novel, Strange Heaven, was published and subsequently nominated for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction when she was twenty-eight. Her short story collection Hellgoing won the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Canada’s most prestigious literary award, for which her novel The Antagonist was also nominated in 2011. Her books have been published in the UK, US, Holland, France, and Germany. Coady has been a journalist, magazine editor, and advice columnist, and is currently writing for television. She divides her time between Edmonton and Toronto. Follow her on Twitter @Lynn_Coady.


"[Lynn Coady] has a hearty wit and a piercing understanding of human nature . . . [she] has made herself one of our essential writers." Quill and Quire

"The Antagonist could have not have come at a better time. In our fast, media-saturated world, this novel gives the reader the refreshing and increasingly rare opportunity to take a closer, more compassionate look at someone wrongly judged by his outer shell." Rover Arts

"... thoroughly engrossing ... a breathless and frequently hilarious narrative ... one of the freshest voices in years." FASHION Magazine

". . . a richly comic creation . . . a revealing effort in cross-gender empathy." Montreal Gazette

"A deft blend of farce, tragedy and wry social comment, The Antagonist is no mean feat." Toronto Star

". . . far more complex than the hilarious one-liners that make her work so irresistible to read." Edmonton Journal

"In this coming-of-age tale, male friendships and relationships are explored in all their goofiness and complexity . . . [Lynn Coady is] one of Canada's best writers of fiction." Winnipeg Free Press

". . . a readable, quixotic coming-of-age story, a comedy of very bad manners, and a thoughtful inquiry into the very nature of self. It’s the sort of novel -- and Coady the sort of writer -- deserving of every accolade coming to it." National Post

". . . by turns angry, funny, tender and sad . . . The Antagonist is a full-bodied work of fiction." Globe and Mail

"The Antagonist is a crafty, technically-accomplished series of meditations on subjects ranging from manhood and self-knowledge to tricky father-son relationships." Vancouver Sun

"Unhinged at times, cathartic, lyrical and brave ... the reader must simply sit back and enjoy." Rabble

"... [a] strong new comic novel." Winnipeg Review

"Sentence for sentence, Lynn Coady is one of the most dynamic prose stylists in Canadian letters." Walrus

"[Lynn Coady] is entering old-pro territory ..." Malahat Review

"Only a writer as wonderfully gifted as Lynn Coady could elicit such extraordinary sympathy for a character as full of self-destructive rage as Rank, her main character. You won't soon forget either him or this haunting novel." Richard Russo

" and very funny...the pathos and humor brought to a challenging life story will appeal to many readers." Publishers Weekly

"A genuinely fascinating character [whose] emails evolve from clumsy rages to thoughtful, measured ruminations on crucial events in his life...But it is Coady’s ability to realistically portray his teens and university years and empathetically conduct his search for self that makes The Antagonist more than just entertainment." Booklist

"Smartly tuned and as unsettling as it intends to be...Coady expertly renders a man who's compelled to address his past but not entirely ready to look in the mirror [and her novel] is a caution to tread carefully." Kirkus

"... a stunning new novel. Coady's writing is witty and sensitive... this is a fantastic book that shouldn't be missed." Daily Beast/Newsweek

"...[a] clever and sympathetic exploration of male friendship." Washington Post