Kimbofo reviews The Antagonist

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Giller Prize night is only 10 days away and the Shadow Jury is completing its reading before heading into deliberations (our objective is to post our choice here on Friday, Nov. 4). In the meantime, here are the opening paragraphs of Kimbofo’s review of The Antagonist, by Lynn Coady — full review is here:

A misunderstood giant who confronts his past is the subject of Lynn Coady’s Giller shortlisted novel The Antagonist.

The giant is Gordon “Rank” Rankin, adopted at birth by Sylvie and Gordon Senior, a well-meaning but mismatched couple — “The dad was a prick, the mom was a goddess” — who raise him in small town Canada.

A larger-than-normal child, Rank looks like a fully grown man by the age of 14. With this comes all kinds of complications — people treat him like an adult even though he’s just a teenage boy — and he struggles to get on with his father, a short, angry man, whom he realises he “could’ve taken” at just age six “if I’d wanted”.

Their relationship, which is largely the focus of this novel, becomes more strained when Sylvie is killed in a car accident, leaving Gordon Snr to raise 16-year-old Rank alone.

But Coady gives this tale of a difficult father-son relationship a new twist. She has Rank looking back on his troubled past from the perspective of a soon-to-be-40-year-old man who has supposedly changed his ways, although it’s clear he is filled with resentment and has a special talent for holding grudges. It’s written epistolary style, in a series of emails to a college classmate, over a three-month period in 2009.

KfC’s review of The Antagonist is here.

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