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"Childhood" is Andre Alexis's picaresque and stunning debut novel. It features Thomas Macmillan, a Canadian with ties to Trinidad, who pieces together -- from memory and from related stories -- the early years of his life.
Raised in Petrolia, a small town in southern Ontario near the U.S. border, Thomas is abandoned by his mother to the care of an eccentric grandmother. When he reaches the age of nine, his mother Katarina and a Mr. Mataf take him on a pilgrimage to Ottawa, where they live in the Victorian home of Mr. Henry Wing, a magus-like figure, whose love of science and the imagination becomes an important legacy for Thomas.
Set in the 1950s and early 1960s, Childhood is daring. intelligent, profoundly moving, laced with humor, and tinged with longing. It signals the emergence of a supremely talented writer and storyteller, whose gifts for drawing memorable characters and for infusing place with a sense of wonder and immediacy are equal to the bold ambition of his novel's title.