A Song from Faraway

A Novel
“Béchard’s poetic gifts give voice to the outsiders of society, and make them glow with humanity and love.” —ELIZABETH MCKENZIE
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With his first book, the Commonwealth Prize-winning Vandal Love, Deni Ellis Béchard “reinvented the generational novel with innovative brilliance” (Robert Olen Butler). In his second novel, Into the Sun, he offered “a ferociously intelligent and intensely gripping portrait of the expatriate community in Kabul” (Phil Klay). Most recently, Foreword Reviews described his third novel, White, as “captivating, careening, thrilling, and magical.” In this, his fourth work of fiction, Béchard takes readers from nineteenth-century Prince Edward Island to modern-day Iraq, tracing the story of a North American family that is at once singular and emblematic, and exploring the cultural repercussions of war and violence.

Reinventing themselves in often unexpected ways, the characters in this tapestry defy simplification. A pair of half-brothers come together and drift apart, one passive and risk-averse, the other driven by a passionate desire to understand their reclusive father. A student of Mesopotamian archaeology encounters a young Iraqi man and soon finds himself in Kurdistan, researching stolen artifacts along with mysteries in his father’s past. An Irish-Acadian soldier carries his fiddle and folk song across the battlefields of the First World War. An orphan-turned-assassin pursues his target across the deserts of Mexico and Texas, using a novel as evidence for his location. Growing together and then apart, these and others chase their dreams and run from their nightmares, hungry for life and longing for purpose.

Animated throughout by a striking beauty and ferocity, A Song from Faraway pieces together “stories we tell about ourselves,” illuminating the human condition and our times.

Publish Date
5.5 × 8.5 × 0.5 in
9.6 oz

Deni Ellis Béchard

Deni Ellis Béchard is the author of eight previous books of fiction and nonfiction, including Vandal Love, winner of the 2007 Commonwealth Writers Prize, and Into the Sun, winner of the 2016 Midwest Book Award for Literary Fiction and selected by CBC/Ra

Praise and Prizes

  • “Béchard, also a journalist who has reported from all over the world, gifts us with an observant, lyrical and powerful consideration of the violent expansiveness and dangerously flawed stories North American fathers have bequeathed to their sons. Tough of mind and tender of heart, its beauty is wholly entrancing.”

    San Francisco Chronicle
  • “A novel in stories, Béchard’s fourth work of fiction follows one family from 19th-century Canada to modern Iraq, through war and spiritual yearning.”

    New York Times Book Review
    “New & Noteworthy”
  • “Béchard (White) continues his interest in the relationship between myths and fiction writing in this complex, captivating tale … [He] provides rich insight into his characters’ search for meaning through art.”

    Publishers Weekly
  • “Fundamentally, A Song from Faraway invites readers to participate in storytelling, to move through uncertainty toward clarity. When we hover between selves, when we lead double lives, when we ask impossible questions, ‘We blend with others. We glimpse what else we might become.’”

    World Literature Today
  • “With gripping portrayals of fathers and sons, mothers and siblings, passion and pain – this is a moving, non-linear novel about the relationships to family and society upon which all humanity rests.”

    New Books Network
  • “A brilliant, gorgeous novel like nothing I’ve ever read before. With perfect sentences, Béchard writes about vulnerable lives, churning for recognition and purpose beneath the forces of history. The scope of this novel and the complexity of its characters is astounding. This book will make you rethink the incredible power of the stories we tell about ourselves and our inglorious past.”

    Jen Percy
    author of Demon Camp
  • “Lavish and seductive, gloriously kaleidoscopic in conception, Deni Ellis Bechard’s A Song from Faraway is a tremendous literary achievement and a page-turner. I fell under its spell completely.”

    Elizabeth McKenzie
    author of The Portable Veblen
  • A Song from Faraway brings us around the world, singing a song about the folly of truth. It is unsettling and playful and uncanny and breathtaking. Deni Ellis Béchard does in this work what a novel should do; he makes it new and spellbinds us with it.”

    Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer
  • “Brave and complex, A Song from Faraway is prose of the highest order, offering a masterclass of characters that have nowhere to hide under the harsh light of their flawed lives. In this blanched terrain, Béchard proves himself to be a magician of a storyteller, deftly commanding the reader’s attention with one hand while the other produces surprise after magnificent surprise.”

    Dimitri Nasrallah
  • “Powerful, intimate, and compelling, Béchard’s novel will take your breath away. He shows us how fiction meets and transforms history to become fiction again, how what seems faraway—our fathers’ battles, ancient art, the people we love—is nearby, and how mystery continues to propel both our histories and our private lives.”

    Johanna Skibsrud