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House of Anansi Press

The Outlander

Written by Gil Adamson

Published August 11, 2020 | ISBN 9781487007300

Cover of The Outlander

Regular price $22.95 CAD

408 pages | 8 in × 5.25 in
Print Format

Also Available as an Ebook

About this book

The Outlander

Gil Adamson

In 1903, a mysterious, desperate woman flees alone across the West, one quick step ahead of the law. She has just become a widow by her own hand. Two vengeful brothers and a pack of bloodhounds track her across the wilderness. She is nineteen years old and half mad.

Gil Adamson’s extraordinary award-winning novel opens in heart-pounding mid-flight and propels the reader through a gripping road trip with a twist — the steely outlaw in this story is a grief-stricken young woman. Along the way she encounters characters of all stripes — unsavoury, wheedling, greedy, lascivious, self-reliant, and occasionally generous and trustworthy. Part historical novel, part Gothic tale, and part literary Western, The Outlander is an original and unforgettable read, now available in a new edition to coincide with the release of the long-awaited follow-up, Ridgerunner.

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, 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