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Biblioasis Fall 2022

Instructions for the Drowning
By (author): Steven Heighton
Steven Heighton





Product Form:


Form detail:

Paperback , Trade


General Trade
Apr 18, 2023
$22.95 CAD


8in x 5 x 0.68 in | 1 gr

Page Count:

224 pages
FICTION / Short Stories
Short stories|Fiction: general and literary

“To say Heighton is an immensely talented writer is true enough but insufficient ... As good a writer as Canada has ever produced.”—National Post

A man recalls his father's advice on how to save a drowning person, but struggles to come to terms with its application. Locked down with his new partner and her aging cat, a recovering alcoholic must continue learning how to balance control and vulnerability. When his husband dies, a son's request of his conservative father teaches both men to see one another, and their relationship, anew. In stories about love and fear, Romantic idealism and practical limitations, self-reckoning and how we learn to care for one another, Steven Heighton's Instructions for the Drowning is the unforgettable last collection by a writer working at the height of his powers.

Steven Heighton (1961–2022) was the author of nineteen previous books, including the Writers' Trust Hilary Weston Prize finalist Reaching Mithymna: Among the Volunteers and Refugees on Lesvos and The Waking Comes Late, winner of the Governor General's Award for poetry.

Key selling points

  • Steven Heighton, who passed away in April 2022, was the author of nineteen books, including the novel Afterlands, a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice, the Writers' Trust Hilary Weston Prize shortlisted memoir Reaching Mithymna, and the Governor General's Award-winning poetry collection The Waking Comes Late.
  • A widely celebrated and deeply loved figure in the Canadian literary landscape, reader enthusiasm for and media and critical interest in this posthumous collection will be substantial.
  • Heighton’s previous story collections received rave reviews from the National Post (“The best stories in [The Dead Are More Visible] … are as good as the fiction of Alice Munro and Mavis Gallant.”), Globe and Mail (“Heighton is a master”), Literary Review of Canada (“Heighton has come close to producing what might be considered the perfect book of short stories”), The Observer (“Brilliant… Steven Heighton's stories aspire to an Ovidian kind of grandeur, singing of bodies, cultures and landscapes both physical and spiritual in states of transformation”), TLS (“Vivacious, purposeful and entertaining. [Heighton's] prose is both stylish and unfussy. He is one of Canada's most talented.”), and elsewhere.
  • Editorial comps include David Bergen’s Here the Dark, Alexander MacLeod’s Animal Person, and KD Miller’s Late Breaking.


  • Print run: 10,000 copies
  • Co-op available
  • Advance reader copies
  • Edelweiss digital review copies
  • National TV & radio campaign
  • National print media campaign
  • Online and social media campaign
  • Excerpts in Granta, Lithub

Praise for Steven Heighton

“[A] brilliant storyteller … [His] exquisite, powerful meditations on who we are place Heighton among the great Canadian writers … His focus is contemporary, but he is a practitioner of the old school, a writer for those who love to read widely and deeply.”—Donna Bailey Nurse,
Literary Review of Canada

“The key to the book’s force is Heighton’s imperative to humanize and individualize everyone he encounters ... These are not statistics but people, each sensitively depicted ... A stunning book, by turns heartbreaking and affirming, fundamentally human in its depth and scope.”Quill & Quire (starred review)

“Vivid and powerfully drawn ... The Shadow Boxer is an energetic, fluent and interesting novel by a writer who has already shown himself to be gifted, capable of exploring and experimenting with language.”—Times Literary Supplement

“Heighton works (and plays) with words in wondrous ways few contemporary poets even dream of attempting, let alone conquering.”—Judith Fitzgerald, Globe and Mail

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