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The Sleeping Car Porter - cover

The Sleeping Car Porter

Suzette Mayr

Publisher: Coach House Books

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Summary

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2024 DUBLIN LITERARY AWARD 
WINNER OF THE 2022 SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE 
WINNER OF THE 2023 GEORGES BUGNET AWARD FOR FICTION 
FINALIST FOR THE 2023 GOVERNOR GENERAL'S AWARD FOR ENGLISH-LANGUAGE FICTION 
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY TOP 20 LITERARY FICTION BOOKS OF 2022 
OPRAH DAILY: BOOKS TO READ BY THE FIRE 
THE GLOBE 100: THE BEST BOOKS OF 2022 
CBC BOOKS: THE BEST CANADIAN FICTION OF 2022 
SHORTLISTED FOR THE CAROL SHIELDS PRIZE FOR FICTION 
WINNER OF THE CITY OF CALGARY W.O. MITCHELL BOOK PRIZE 
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2022 REPUBLIC OF CONSCIOUSNESS PRIZE 
When a mudslide strands a train, Baxter, a queer Black sleeping car porter, must contend with the perils of white passengers, ghosts, and his secret love affair 
The Sleeping Car Porter brings to life an important part of Black history in North America, from the perspective of a queer man living in a culture that renders him invisible in two ways. Affecting, imaginative, and visceral enough that you’ll feel the rocking of the train, The Sleeping Car Porter is a stunning accomplishment. 
Baxter’s name isn’t George. But it’s 1929, and Baxter is lucky enough, as a Black man, to have a job as a sleeping car porter on a train that crisscrosses the country. So when the passengers call him George, he has to just smile and nod and act invisible. What he really wants is to go to dentistry school, but he’ll have to save up a lot of nickel and dime tips to get there, so he puts up with “George.” 
On this particular trip out west, the passengers are more unruly than usual, especially when the train is stalled for two extra days; their secrets start to leak out and blur with the sleep-deprivation hallucinations Baxter is having. When he finds a naughty postcard of two queer men, Baxter’s memories and longings are reawakened; keeping it puts his job in peril, but he can’t part with the postcard or his thoughts of Edwin Drew, Porter Instructor. 
"Suzette Mayr brings to life –believably, achingly, thrillingly –a whole world contained in a passenger train moving across the Canadian vastness, nearly one hundred years ago. As only occurs in the finest historical novels, every page in The Sleeping Car Porter feels alive and immediate –and eerily contemporary. The sleeping car porter in this sleek, stylish novel is named R.T. Baxter –called George by the people upon whom he waits, as is every other Black porter. Baxter’s dream of one day going to school to learn dentistry coexists with his secret life as a gay man, and in Mayr’s triumphant novel we follow him not only from Montreal to Calgary, but into and out of the lives of an indelibly etched cast of supporting characters, and, finally, into a beautifully rendered radiance." – 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize Jury
Available since: 08/29/2022.
Print length: 216 pages.

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