“Michael Winter gives us the story of a man who suffers a shock, searches for a foundation, and rescues a home. This is a book about old-fashioned love, the very unlikely, smoking hot, so lucky you came across it kind. The lasting kind of love that blazes like a forest fire. In Minister Without Portfolio Michael Winter takes a ball-peen hammer to your heart and finds the veins of gold. Every sentence is an ungrounded wire, megawatts of ebullience, wonder and sparking-spitting joy. Electric prose.”
-Lisa Moore, author of February
Recently single and listless at work, Henry Hayward spends his days in the solace of alcohol and his nights with a series of interchangeable partners. In a quest to recover, Henry applies for a citizen’s observatory post in Afghanistan. Embedded in the regiment with his friends and fellow Newfoundlanders, a routine patrol suddenly turns fatal. And Henry, who survives, knows in his heart that he is responsible.
Upon his return to Newfoundland, tormented by guilt, Henry attempts to make posthumous amends by buying and repairing his dead friend’s summer home. But matters are complicated by the grief of Martha, his friend’s long-term girlfriend, with whom Henry once had an affair. Martha has a revelation of her own, which may change everything.
“[A] masterful examination of the very marrow of life. Winter’s prose is terse and beautifully constructed… Minister Without Portfolio is essential reading, an honest, and at times frank-to-the-point-of-discomfort exploration of guilt, loss, faint hope and struggle.”
“Winter is as compelling a prose stylist as his generation of Canadian writers has produced, his simply constructed sentences taking on an accumulating incantatory power that never stops building through the last page.”
“Winter captures the nuances of rural Newfoundland life, with its help-thy-neighbour spirit, along with the fragility of life in a place where humans are always battling nature. The author weaves potential calamity seamlessly into the quotidian and prosaic. [He] imbues his characters with such depth that we care deeply about what happens to them.”
–Quill and Quire
“Sentence by sentence, Winter is as compelling a prose stylist as his generation of Canadian writers has produced, his simply constructed sentences taking on an accumulating incantatory power that never stops building through the last page.”
“Winter’s protagonist is on a mission to find meaning and direction in life, and we’re in his corner every step of the way….Tolstoyan in its sense of weighty importance… Hemingwayesque in its taut terse language…”
“This achingly resonant novel about the hidden fallout of war and every kind of human relationship packs a powerful punch with its sparse language, evocative scenes, and detailed observation of rural Newfoundland life… Steer this toward readers seeking works stylistically similar to Ernest Hemingway and Raymond Carver.”
Penguin Canada, World, Fall 2013
Pintail, US, Fall 2013
Shortlisted for CBC Canada Reads 2016
Longlisted for the 2013 Giller Prize