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Canadian Feminist Writer Sarah Felix Burns Writes BIG Fish Story

abstract:Jackfish, The Vanishing Village (Inanna Poetry & Fiction) is not a regular fish story—but it will hook you. Clemance-Marie Nadeau is haunted by memories unraveling from a traumatic past. Her story begins as she boards a train bound for Sault Ste. Marie and falls under the spell of a charming stranger who promises her a life of adventure. Nothing she will experience could be further from that promise. Based on her own life and stories from the trauma/torture survivors that Sarah Felix Burns has counseled over the years, Jackfish will mesmerize and invoke a gamut of emotions. Not since, Bastard Out of Carolina will you be so moved by a book of this kind. Don't let your group miss Jackfish. The author writes, “This book is dedicated to all those people who battle with the demons of guilt, shame addiction, and mental illness.” Take a look at BookBuffet Reviewer Dee Raffo's review.


May 15, 2008
Sarah Felix Burns’s first work of fiction is dark, enthralling, and powerful. The story pivots around a village called Jackfish in Ontario, Canada, whose existence and eventual decline haunts the thoughts of our protagonist, Clemance-Marie Nadeau. We start here and throughout the book move through time and place as Clemance’s sad story reveals itself to us.

There are memories in everybody’s lives which never seem far away from the present day, that take us by surprise now and again, but unlike most people Clemance finds herself trapped by these memories, unable to let them go. Her main struggle is a sense of shame and guilt that she carries with her, springing from so many different sources, from family to past lovers, religion and, of course, Jackfish.

“I emigrated here from Canada nearly a decade ago. Each year that ticks by I feel a growing sense of remorse, which I am sure is guilt for leaving my country, my people, my village.”

As well as being an amazing tale of a woman’s battle with what life has thrown at her, Jackfish is an exploration of the emotions we attach to places, and how they can be part of our character and person. Sarah Felix Burns reveals a woman traveling from place to place, chasing redemption, and her sense of loss that she is never "home."

“What is home? It is as elusive to me as the fleeting wind.”

Another element to this story is the way in which the main character isolates herself from those around her. Clemance is a Canadian feminist who finds herself in a small American town where religion and national pride are the norm. She shuns her work colleagues, family, and husband, cocooning herself in her home, left only with her thoughts. It echoes a lot of people's stories where they feel they can’t connect, people will not understand, or they will judge and pity.

A graduate in Women’s Studies & History, with a Masters in Social Work, the author clearly has keen insight into the human mind. This book has so many levels that readers can delve into as they please, providing a great basis for discussion.

“I will not tell Bernie about this. I must protect him and Miette from the past. And all the bad things in the world. I will simply burn it up so that it no longer exists. So that the badness is gone. I can handle this alone because I know badness and rawness and evil as though it were the inside of my own skin. I know it well, but I must protect my Bernie and Miette from it.”

It is painful to follow Clemance through her constant search for redemption as she tells each wrenching part of her tale. A surprise twist of life turns her world upside down and you begin to witness the character’s self-repair as she learns to let go of the past.

Reading this story of survival and amazing courage, you cannot help but be shocked at both the depravity of the human being and the kindness and love we are capable of. This is a book that left me thinking about it for days.

Visit the publisher/author website for more information, or contact BookBuffet if you would like to learn more about how to reach Sarah Burns. And check out the selection of other feminist books available at INANNA PUBLICATIONS.

Praise for Jackfish, The Vanishing Village

Sarah Burns is a gifted writer. Jackfish may have disappeared from the map, but Burns makes it unforgettable. The narrator of this imaginary memoir, Clemance-Marie Nadeau, is a unique individual. The subtle style, effective images, and ambitious structure of the narration draw us into Clemance’s world and make us care about her and those around her. This book is thought-provoking and moving feminist fiction. —Valerie Raoul, Director of the saga Centre for Studies in Autobiography, Gender and Age at the University of British Columbia.

Jackfish, The Vanishing Village is a fascinating read! Clemance-Marie’s poignant, harrowing journey back to Jackfish carried me through the gamut of anger, rage, shame, shock, grief and elation. Sarah Burns’s novel is a powerful and moving narration of a woman’s search for redemption. —Tygré A. Wynters, Author of Love’s Second Chance

Jackfish, The Vanishing Village offers readers an honest and insightful glimpse into the struggles of women impacted by violence, mental health, and substance use problems. With dignity and compassion, Burns draws our collective attention to the impact of these critical—and often overlooked—issues on the lives of women. —Amy Salmon, Director, Addictions Research, British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health



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