LONGLISTED FOR THE 2023 SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE
AN APPLE BOOKS BEST BOOK OF THE MONTH FOR SEPTEMBER 2023
“We all lined up for our whipping by the shouting beauty and tender traumas of life. All of us so sensitive, and now this beautiful girl, with soft brown hair that was shot with gold in the sun. Another one of us starting to stumble.”
Peter plays the trumpet and works in a kitchen; Stasi tries to climb the corporate ladder and lands in therapy. These sensitive siblings struggle to find their place in the world, seeking intimacy and belonging—or trying to escape it.
A promising audition, a lost promotion, intriguing strangers and a silent lover—in rich, sensual scenes and moody brilliance, The Clarion explores rituals of connection and belonging, themes of intimacy and performance, and how far we wander to find, or lose, our sense of self.
Following the literary realist traditions of Mavis Gallant and Alice Munro, Dunic’s debut novel captures the vague if hopeful melancholy of any generation that believes it was never “called” to something great.
Nina Dunic is a two-time winner of the Toronto Star Short Story Contest, has been longlisted for the CBC Short Story Prize four times, won third place in the Humber Literary Review Emerging Writers Fiction Contest, and was nominated for The Journey Prize. Nina lives in Scarborough. Find out more at ninadunic.com.
“A novel of small, graceful moments of epiphany, fleeting happenstance connections, like the plaintive sound of a trumpet in the dark. A wonderful, and promising, debut.”—Toronto Star
“With her beautiful debut novel, Nina Dunic takes a clear-eyed look at the ways we try to fool ourselves. Siblings Stasi and Peter shared a difficult and disjointed childhood, but they’ve taken divergent paths as adults. Stasi, a restless and driven wife, mother, and not-quite executive, strives to make the world bend to her will, while Peter, a would-be professional trumpet player, bends for everything and everyone all too easily. Alternating between her two protagonists’ points of view, Dunic gives us heartbreaking insight into the inner monologues that nag at both characters as they each try to skirt past the deeper issues that are too painful to acknowledge. Both tragic and relatable, The Clarion is an intimate portrait of two people who are keenly aware of their flaws, even if they don’t have the courage to confront them.”—Apple Books
“In prose that is, at times, quietly sensuous, and, at others, rings out with the clarity and purity of a trumpet call, The Clarion delves into the essential truth at the heart of commonplace lives, revealing the loneliness that lurks under everyday routines. The book unravels the disappointments of the pair of siblings at its centre with an incisive tenderness that is as attuned to fleeting moments of joy as it is to the melody of sadness that plays softly but insistently through their days. This is an extraordinary debut with the courage to recognize and reckon with the essential solitude of our moment, a rare novel that is willing to look unflinchingly at our isolation, and that, in doing this, fulfils the promise of fiction to make us less alone.”—Aaron Schneider, author of The Supply Chain and What We Think We Know
“With a unique sensitivity, Nina Dunic shares with us the hopefulness and solitude of being an introspective thinker. Her characters, Peter and Stasi, speak to the universality of loneliness through the disenchanting particulars of their own. Beautiful and devastating.”—The Miramichi Reader
“The Clarion‘s split narrative of a brother and sister adrift is as darkly comic as it is precise. Dunic is able to distill what it means to be alone with a single line, or look, or colour of the sky. There’s a felt pressure below every one of this novel’s cloistered fragments, a quiet below the characters’ inexorable ‘getting by’ that so many of us recognize, and it breaks your heart. Here is an exciting new voice in fiction.”—Jason Jobin, author of The Wild Mandrake
“In The Clarion, the lives of Dunic’s sibling protagonists run parallel, propelled by the constant tension between performance and introspection that can come to define us as people—both who we are and also who we fail to be.”—Curtis LeBlanc, author of Sunsetter and Birding in the Glass Age of Isolation