The Librarianist

The Librarianist

A Novel

Written by: deWitt, Patrick

THE INSTANT #1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER

Finalist, 2024 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour 

From bestselling and award-winning author Patrick deWitt comes the story of Bob Comet, a man who has lived his life through and for literature, unaware that his own experience is a poignant and affecting narrative in itself.

Bob Comet is a retired librarian passing his solitary days surrounded by books and small comforts in a mint-colored house in Portland, Oregon. One morning on his daily walk he encounters a confused elderly woman lost in a market and returns her to the senior center that is her home. Hoping to fill the void he’s known since retiring, he begins volunteering at the center. Here, as a community of strange peers gathers around Bob, and following a happenstance brush with a painful complication from his past, the events of his life and the details of his character are revealed.

Behind Bob Comet’s straight-man façade is the story of an unhappy child’s runaway adventure during the last days of the Second World War, of true love won and stolen away, of the purpose and pride found in the librarian’s vocation, and of the pleasures of a life lived to the side of the masses. Bob’s experiences are imbued with melancholy but also a bright, sustained comedy; he has a talent for locating bizarre and outsized players to welcome onto the stage of his life.

With his inimitable verve, skewed humor, and compassion for the outcast, Patrick deWitt has written a wide-ranging and ambitious document of the introvert’s condition. The Librarianist celebrates the extraordinary in the so-called ordinary life, and depicts beautifully the turbulence that sometimes exists beneath a surface of serenity.

THE INSTANT #1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER

Finalist, 2024 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour 

From bestselling and award-winning author Patrick deWitt comes the story of Bob Comet, a man who has lived his life through and for literature, unaware that his own experience is a poignant and affecting narrative in itself.

Bob Comet is a retired librarian passing his solitary days surrounded by books and small comforts in a mint-colored house in Portland, Oregon. One morning on his daily walk he encounters a confused elderly woman lost in a market and returns her to the senior center that is her home. Hoping to fill the void he’s known since retiring, he begins volunteering at the center. Here, as a community of strange peers gathers around Bob, and following a happenstance brush with a painful complication from his past, the events of his life and the details of his character are revealed.

Behind Bob Comet’s straight-man façade is the story of an unhappy child’s runaway adventure during the last days of the Second World War, of true love won and stolen away, of the purpose and pride found in the librarian’s vocation, and of the pleasures of a life lived to the side of the masses. Bob’s experiences are imbued with melancholy but also a bright, sustained comedy; he has a talent for locating bizarre and outsized players to welcome onto the stage of his life.

With his inimitable verve, skewed humor, and compassion for the outcast, Patrick deWitt has written a wide-ranging and ambitious document of the introvert’s condition. The Librarianist celebrates the extraordinary in the so-called ordinary life, and depicts beautifully the turbulence that sometimes exists beneath a surface of serenity.

Published By House of Anansi Press Inc — Jul 4, 2023
Specifications 352 pages | 6 in x 9 in
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Excerpt
Written By


PATRICK DEWITT is the author of the novels French Exit (an international bestseller and a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize), The Sisters Brothers (winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction and the Atwood Gibson Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and a finalist for the Booker Prize and the Scotiabank Giller Prize), and the critically acclaimed Undermajordomo Minor and Ablutions. Born in British Columbia, he now resides in Portland, Oregon.

Written By


PATRICK DEWITT is the author of the novels French Exit (an international bestseller and a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize), The Sisters Brothers (winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction and the Atwood Gibson Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and a finalist for the Booker Prize and the Scotiabank Giller Prize), and the critically acclaimed Undermajordomo Minor and Ablutions. Born in British Columbia, he now resides in Portland, Oregon.

Short-listed, Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour, 2024

Commended, CBC 2023 Best Canadian Fiction, 2023

"Bob Comet, a retired librarian … brings to mind John Williams’ Stoner and Thoreau’s chestnut about ‘lives of quiet desperation,’ but it is telling that deWitt chooses to capture him at times when his life takes a turn. A quietly effective and moving character study." — Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW

” —Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW

"Gripping, random, and totally alive." — Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

” —Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

"deWitt’s writing and endearing characters create a memorable world." — Los Angeles Times

” —

"deWitt is one of the great literary ventriloquists, producing funny, quirky, richly imagined novels shaped each time by a wildly different narrative voice." — Daily Mail

” —Bookpage

"A character study of almost defiant gentleness." — The Times

” —Willamette Week

"Personal and existential ... deWitt cobbles together a complicated but heartfelt treatise on introversion and the value of a life lived through books ... [The Librarianist] never strays far from what makes his novels so delightful: his dexterity with language, his interest in what happens when words fail, and the rare moments where they land." — Walrus

” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Utterly charming … Characters come alive immediately on the page and there’s simply an energy to deWitt’s books that make them pleasurable to spend time with." — Chicago Tribune

” —The Daily Telegraph

"deWitt’s great gift lies in his ability to depict the Everyman in extremis – heroism hidden in plain sight." — The Daily Telegraph

” —Big Issue