An Amazon.ca Best Book of 2013: Top 100/Editors’ Pick
At the hospital in Blantyre, Malawi, Bryce is learning to predict the worst. Racing heart: infection, probably malaria. He’ll send Iris for saline. Shortness of breath? TB. Another patient rolled to the ward. And the round swellings, the rashes with dimpled centres, the small rough patches on a boy’s foot? HIV. Iris will make him comfortable. They’ll move on.
Then there will be sleeplessness, rationed energy, a censuring of hope: the doctor’s disease. Iris sees that one all the time.
Henry Bryce has come to Blantyre to work off the grief he feels for his old life, but he can’t adjust to the hopelessness that surrounds him. He relies increasingly upon Sister Iris’s steady presence. Yet it’s not until an accident brings them both to a village outpost that Bryce realizes the personal sacrifices Iris has made for her medical training, or that Iris in turn comes to fathom the depth of Henry’s loss.
The Strength of Bone is the story of a Western doctor, a Malawian nurse, and the crises that push both of them to the brink of collapse. With biting emotion and a pathological eye for detail, novelist and medical doctor Lucie Wilk demonstrates how, in a place where knowledge can frustrate as often as it heals, true strength requires the flexibility to let go.
Praise for The Strength of Bone
“A gorgeous debut.”—Joseph Boyden, author of Through Black Spruce and The Orenda
“Wilk aptly captures the bleakness of medical crises in Africa … [her] prose never entirely relinquishes its rational edge, and so many of the tensions which move the story remain necessarily unresolved. This is a book honest in its brutality, though brightened by hopeful sparks.”—ForeWord
“Absorbing and finely crafted … Wilk enthralls the reader in smooth and unsparing prose as her starry-eyed protagonist learns the hard way that sometimes acceptance is the only way forward.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Masterfully literary.”—The National Post
“If you suppose [The Strength of Bone] is a love story across racial and political lines, you’re underestimating the inventiveness and grace of Lucie Wilk’s meditative debut. Wilk instead works with what is unspoken, hinted at, and left to the imagination … anything but typical.”—Kamal Al-Solaylee, Quill & Quire
“Wilk illuminates the differences between Malawian culture and that of the West while capturing both the fever-dream beauty and desperation of the country … Readers who enjoyed Abraham Verghese’s Cutting for Stone may want to give this book a try.”—Library Journal
“Deeply felt but never sentimental, thoughtful but not preachy, Lucie Wilk’s first novel, The Strength of Bone, delivers strong characters involved in a page-turning plot. Imagery drawn from African and Canadian settings, and also from the world of medicine, enriches the novel throughout. A memorable story.”—Cynthia Flood, 49th Shelf
“A lyrical debut novel.”—CultMontreal
“Detailed, unique and undeniably human.”—The Gauntlet