Skip to content

By Straun Sinclair

“A tour de force of masterfully varied, inventive prose, dead-on detail, pole-vaulting ideas, wild humour and complex characters, including a buff, pugnacious wheeled suitcase called the Traveller.”
-Steven Heighton, author of Afterlands and The Shadow Boxer

“Once you hop on that steam train in Struan Sinclair’s first sentence, it’s one sumptuous sentence after another — what a voice! — in lovely, delirious and astounding concatenation until the very end of the line. Absolutely gorgeous!”
-Guy Maddin


Sinclair_Automatic World

In this exhilarating debut novel, four strands spanning several generations are woven together through the fragmented consciousness of a patient in rehabilitation from an accident that leaves him stuck in present tense. Unable to recall who he is, where he is from, or who he knows, and determined to access his history, the patient harvests and assembles the narratives of his friends, family, and other witnesses. Out of this miscellany emerge surprising stories: Merrick, an inventor who dreams of a clockwork universe; Dory, a girl who commits a mercy-killing at a local hospice; Merle, whose repeated suicide attempts function to forge a relationship with his estranged son, and, finally, the narrator’s own elusive past. Between these threads is the story of a train crash and of three minutes lost – three minutes that will prove a turning point in the lives of all the characters caught in this complicated clockwork.

“In a totally fresh blueprint for fiction, with shapely sentences and masterful observations, Struan Sinclair assembles a home for his witty and imaginative characters united across a span of more than a century. With astounding new window-views into human nature and private obsession, this surrogate family shares ideas of personal faith and worldly skepticism, they are characters grappling with their origins, their adolescence, their death. A novel where all trains of thought converge only to shatter expectations, Automatic World is a masterful and remarkable piece of architecture, an unmistakable work of art.”
-Lee Henderson, author of The Man Game

“…perplexing and brilliant…an endlessly inventive imagination at work…Sinclair’s prose itself is gripping. His sentences are finely polished, manic, gorgeous and yet always a little chilly.”
The Globe and Mail

‘”Sinclair has written a dark, crackling, experimental novel.”
The Walrus

“There is a real intelligence at work, however, that goes beyond the usual postmodern cleverness, as well as a fresh, inventive eye for detail, rendered in a fittingly abrupt, essentialist style. A novel full of trains that never get where they’re going, it announces that Struan Sinclair has arrived.”
Toronto Star

“Struan Sinclair’s Automatic World is a playful – and wickedly funny – mystery novel that refuses to come to a tidy conclusion… This beguiling novel is destined to be one of the most talked about books of the year.”
Uptown Magazine


Doubleday Canada, Spring 2009


Shortlisted for the 2010 Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction

Shortlisted for the 2010 McNally Robinson Book of the Year