The Full Catastrophe

The Full Catastrophe

A Novel

Written by: Cook, Méira

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A compassionate and funny novel about defining yourself, the communities that support us, and the journeys that secrets propel.


Charlie Minkoff, a thirteen-year-old boy born with intersex traits, would be happy to be left alone. Living with his artist mother in a derelict loft in downtown Winnipeg, perpetually wondering about the father who abandoned him, and tormented in school because of his differences, Charlie navigates the assorted catastrophes of his life. He’s helped along by the love of his beloved grandfather, Oscar, and the makeshift family who surround him: his mother’s best friend; a couple of elderly shut-in neighbours; a mysterious girl in his class who has secrets of her own; and his desperately needy and perpetually hungry dog, Gellman.


When a school project leads him to discover that Oscar never had a bar mitzvah, Charlie decides to right the historical wrong and arrange a belated ceremony. But this quest will be more than he bargained for, and meanwhile everyone from his doctor to his Ancestry Studies teacher keeps insisting that Charlie needs to learn to tell his own story.


Margaret Laurence Award winner Méira Cook’s The Full Catastrophe is a story of psychological complexity, tenderness, and humour.

A compassionate and funny novel about defining yourself, the communities that support us, and the journeys that secrets propel.


Charlie Minkoff, a thirteen-year-old boy born with intersex traits, would be happy to be left alone. Living with his artist mother in a derelict loft in downtown Winnipeg, perpetually wondering about the father who abandoned him, and tormented in school because of his differences, Charlie navigates the assorted catastrophes of his life. He’s helped along by the love of his beloved grandfather, Oscar, and the makeshift family who surround him: his mother’s best friend; a couple of elderly shut-in neighbours; a mysterious girl in his class who has secrets of her own; and his desperately needy and perpetually hungry dog, Gellman.


When a school project leads him to discover that Oscar never had a bar mitzvah, Charlie decides to right the historical wrong and arrange a belated ceremony. But this quest will be more than he bargained for, and meanwhile everyone from his doctor to his Ancestry Studies teacher keeps insisting that Charlie needs to learn to tell his own story.


Margaret Laurence Award winner Méira Cook’s The Full Catastrophe is a story of psychological complexity, tenderness, and humour.

Published By House of Anansi Press Inc — Jun 7, 2022
Specifications 348 pages | 5.25 in x 8 in
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Excerpt
Written By

MÉIRA COOK is the award-winning author of the novels Once More With Feeling; The House on Sugarbush Road, which won the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award; and Nightwatching, which won the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction. She has also published five poetry collections, most recently Monologue Dogs, which was shortlisted for the 2016 Lansdowne Prize for Poetry and for the 2016 McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award. She has won the CBC Poetry Prize and the inaugural Walrus Poetry Prize. She has served as Writer in Residence at the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture, and the Winnipeg Public Library. Born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, she now lives in Winnipeg.

Written By

MÉIRA COOK is the award-winning author of the novels Once More With Feeling; The House on Sugarbush Road, which won the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award; and Nightwatching, which won the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction. She has also published five poetry collections, most recently Monologue Dogs, which was shortlisted for the 2016 Lansdowne Prize for Poetry and for the 2016 McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award. She has won the CBC Poetry Prize and the inaugural Walrus Poetry Prize. She has served as Writer in Residence at the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture, and the Winnipeg Public Library. Born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, she now lives in Winnipeg.

A tender and thoughtful exploration of identity, meaning-making, and the stories we tell.

” —

You can’t help rooting for Charlie, for his grandfather, and even for Gellman the dog in this buoyant and generous novel.

” —

PRAISE FOR MÉIRA COOK AND THE FULL CATASTROPHE



“A tender and thoughtful exploration of identity, meaning-making, and the stories we tell.” — Jean Meltzer, author of The Matzah Ball


“You can’t help rooting for Charlie, for his grandfather, and even for Gellman the dog in this buoyant and generous novel.” — Cary Fagan, author of The Student


PRAISE FOR MÉIRA COOK AND ONCE MORE WITH FEELING


“Méira Cook has written a fine and funny novel that, like the city in which it is set, pulses with life, love, loss, and so much more. Vital and vivid characters spring from the page, grab your heart, and won’t let go.” — Terry Fallis, Two-Time Winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour

“Meira Cook … writes prose so fluid, so effortless, so vivid, you’re swept away on its sheer beauty and power … Once More With Feeling manages to be both sharp and tender, tragic and fiercely funny, and wholly satisfying.” — Toronto Star

“Brimming with warmth and a wry, often surrealistic sense of humour, Cook’s vibrant narrative delves beneath the tenuous surfaces of the everyday, asking us to re-examine the ways in which we see ourselves and understand the world.” — Kerry Lee Powell, author of the Scotiabank Giller Prize-nominated Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush

“Labyrinthine, projecting, reversing, traversing, all of life on a strand of a spider’s web — perhaps those words might tickle the intimate and intricate lives and loves that Cook shares in her magical pages … the book reads like an extended poem, its elegant lines and diverse voices simply twisting and turning forever into a cat’s cradle conversation on women, mothers, daughters, sons, religion, life, death, growing up, tradition … a damn good [novel].” — Hamilton Review of Books

“Méira Cook has re-established her position as one of Manitoba’s, if not Canada’s, finest novelists.” — Jewish Post and News