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By Todd Babiak

“Todd Babiak is my new favourite social satirist. He’s observant, cynical and unrelenting . . . He mercilessly lampoons Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party, the peak oil crisis, self-indulgent SUV drivers, the social climbers and the all-consuming greed. Even the liberal activists get a few knocks. . . . Like all good satirists, Babiak spares none. You may even find yourself, like I did, wincing with self-recognition. The Garneau Block is fast paced, vicious and funny. In other words, it’s great therapy in the Dark Age of Stephen Harper, Ralph Klein and peak oil.”
Toronto Star


Babiak_Garneau Block

The Garneau Block appeared as a daily serial in the Edmonton Journal throughout the fall of 2005, enjoying a wide following before a book deal was even made.

Offering a subtly satirical look at modern life, the story follows a cast of colourful characters in a small neighbourhood in Canada’s oil-rich province of Alberta. Three weeks after a violent death among them, the residents of the Garneau block discover mysterious signs on all of their trees. It is a call to escape the shadow of the death and, they will learn, to save their homes from destruction.

The Garneau Block is a warm and hilarious satire, a mystery and a romance. The residents of the block, a secretly pregnant travel agent with a master’s degree specializing in the haiku, her politically opposed parents, the best actor of his generation, a philosopher of death and his sweet, deluded wife endeavor to transform the Garneau Block, the city, and their lives.

“This is a wonderful contribution to a revived literary genre, the novel serialised in a newspaper. Mr Babiak is blazing a trail – every city should have a story like this.”
-Alexander McCall Smith, author of The N° 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

“The Garneau Block is screamingly funny. There is at least one laugh on every single page. This novel is fast-paced, savvy, bursting with vivid characters. A celebration of Edmonton! Satire that sucker punches everything sacred. Babiak comes out swinging.”
-Lisa Moore, author of Alligator

“Babiak’s book will make you snicker and guffaw in public places. The Garneau Block is about an oddball cast of characters in a make-believe cul-de-sac in Edmonton, where life is one nonstop block party rife with political intrigue, neighbourly shenanigans, death, and romance.”
Canadian Living

“Sublime. It’s the only word for The Garneau Block.”
Vue Weekly (Edmonton)

“Hilarious . . . Any fool arguing that the serial is dead would laugh away any real resistance to The Garneau Block’s many charms. . . . [Babiak’s] characters are as memorably outlandish and archetypal as anything old C.D. [Charles Dickens] ever wrote. . . . Striking a balance between satirical farce and plausible realism, Block is sentimental but never mawkish, a love letter to Edmonton.”
The Georgia Straight

“The Garneau Block not only is funny, it’s sophisticated and hokey at the same time – the very essence of Edmonton, fermented, bottled and best served with crackers and brie.”
The Gazette (Montreal)

“In Babiak’s hands . . . what seems like modern malaise is actually screwball comedy — Douglas Coupland by way of Preston Sturges. . . . The story catches you, the characters immediately endear. Babiak has such an evident affection for them, for all their personal faults….The Garneau Block is the kind of story you’d expect from another city — literature that highlights its citizens, sets ideas spinning, starts a mythology — and now it’s finally ours.”
Edmonton Journal

“Capturing Edmonton’s essence is like nailing jelly to the wall, but [Todd Babiak] manages it handily.”
The Globe and Mail

“Babiak’s language isn’t lofty, but dense with keen observation–highlighting the beauty, kindness, cynicism, sense of humour and contradiction found in many Edmontonians, most Canadians and modern life in general.”
Ottawa Citizen

“The neurotic high comedy of the best Woody Allen films.”
Calgary Herald

“…cleanly written, inventive, fast-moving, stuffed with zingers about everything from Satanists to cellphone ringtones, extremely affectionate toward its nutty cast of players, and laugh-out-loud funny. . . . Babiak’s highest achievement, though, lies in introducing us to the motley charms of the people and the city, whether they be bohemians who shop at Value Village or grandees who dine on bison with blueberry sauce at the Hardware Grill. If there really are a million stories in Champion City, let this one be the first.”
Quill & Quire

“As only the best writers can, Todd Babiak has taken a small patch of turf and, through sparkling satire and a passionate eye, made it a world. A neighborhood in Edmonton is about to get a lot of honorary citizens.”
-Ian McGillis, author of A Tourist’s Guide to Glengarry

What Edmonton Journal readers had to say about The Garneau Block serial:

“Give me uncontrollable laughter; give me familiar urbanscape; give me caricatures that run gamuts of ethnicity, status-consciousness, old family luggage and community; give me a series that leaves me chortling in my car. . . . It is as life must have been when Dickens’ next instalment of Little Nell had the New York harbourfront a-clamour as the packet steamship from London docked.”

“This is, I have to say, the coolest thing.”

“I look forward to reading your chapters with my morning tea! It’s the first thing I look for. . . .Your writing makes me laugh out loud at least twice each morning.”

“I am thoroughly enjoying your novel. The main characters are hilarious but true to life. We all know or knew someone like them in Edmonton.”

“On my flight out of Edmonton the other day, the woman across the aisle from me asked someone else for ‘Section B,’ expressly to read The Garneau Block. She and I gushed about your book and confessed how you have us captivated.”

“A hit, Mr. Babiak, a palpable hit.”

“I am pleased with the novel The Garneau Block by Todd Babiak, which has been serialized by the Journal. It is exactly the kind of writing I have been waiting for – it reminds me a lot of Robertson Davies.”

“I love the novel and read it every morning. It’s my little six-minute ‘escape’ before the get-ready-for-school mayhem that inevitably ensues each morning at my place. Anyways, congratulations. You are an amazing writer and you should be really proud of your work. The Garneau Block makes me feel even prouder to be from
this very cool city.”

“I thought it the strangest thing to see a professor named Raymond who lived across from the Sugarbowl in today’s segment of your novel. Why? My husband is a U of A professor (Sociology) named Raymond and where do we live? Across from the Sugarbowl. Strange coincidence, indeed! P.S.: You don’t know us do you?”

“Too funny, too true, too sad!”

“Mr. Babiak: You better freaking not be getting a big ego now. Then you’ll leave Edmonton for Toronto like all the other big-ego people. Instead, start writing The Garneau Block Two: We’re All Still Here With Our Rebate Cheques.”


McClelland & Stewart, Canada, August 2006


Longlisted for the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize

Shortlisted for the 2007 Alberta Literary Awards

Winner of the City of Edmonton Book Prize

#1 Bestseller

Other Books by Todd Babiak