"The Outside World" English Language Finalists for the Trillium Book Award
Jury Comment: “Through the eyes of fourteen-year-old Robby Tedley, we meet a family living on a “perfectly normal suburban street” in the late 1960s – but of course there’s nothing normal about them. Robby’s mother is too terrified to venture beyond the front door, and his father, who works at the local Texaco, is oblivious to his wife’s metal illness. Illustrating the fragility of humans set against the rapid currents of modern life, Dempster displays a sure hand with character, setting and narrative, revelling in the desperate conflicts that lie between the people we know and love, and can’t escape.”
Set in 1966 in a Toronto suburb, The Outside World follows Robinson Tedley, a teenager, whose mother is an agoraphobic who spends most of her time peering at the neighbours from her living room window, whose mentally challenged sister wants nothing more than to be outside in sunshine and whose father is perpetually oblivious to the tensions within his home. How can Robbie take care of his mother and his roaming sister when he’s got so much to contend with in the outside world? Girls, love, sex, school. Bullies and friendships and growing pains, the force of his own fears and anger. Pressing against Robbie's own difficulties are the troubles of a conservative 1950s mainstream. A dark and engaging coming-of-age story.
Barry Dempster, twice nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award, is the author of fourteen poetry collections, two novels, two volumes of short stories and a children’s book. His collection The Burning Alphabet won the Canadian Authors’ Association Chalmers Award for Poetry in 2005. In 2010, he was a finalist for the Ontario Premiers Award for Excellence in the Arts. He is also Acquisitions Editor for Brick Books.