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CanLit150

Celebrate more than 150 years of Canada with 150 books.

Howard Akler Recommends

Passing Ceremony by Helen Weinzweig

Passing Ceremony (1973)

(From House of Anansi Press)

In this brilliant debut novel by Helen Weinzweig, the award-winning author of Basic Black With Pearls, a wedding reception becomes a gothic dream in which the bride, groom, family, and guests struggle with private obsessions, guilty fantasies of sex and power, and the constant failure of love. The bride is not all she seems and there is something ambiguous about the groom — and about everyone else at the surreal and strangely moving wedding.

Like a piece of music, Passing Ceremony is composed of brief, suggestive fragments that grow into a tightly integrated whole. There are bits of real and imagined conversation; polite dialogues that slide into mad comic banality; and scenes that could be quiet nightmares out of Borges.

A satire and a rueful mediation on the ways people hurt one another, Weinzweig gives us a world suspended in time, an uneasy territory of the soul, which we all inhabit.

Helen Weinzweig

(From House of Anansi Press)

Helen Weinzweig is the author of the novels Passing Ceremony and Basic Black with Pearls, winner of the Toronto Book Award. Her short story collection, A View from the Roof, was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction. Helen Weinzweig died in Toronto in 2010.