How Jacqueline Baker’s five-year-old novel got a second life

November 25, 2019 | Arts & Culture

Jacqueline Baker planned to spend her sabbatical year writing, and for the first seven months that’s exactly what the assistant professor of English at MacEwan University did. The author of The Broken Hours had her head down working on her fourth novel until she received an unexpected – and somewhat mysterious – request from her agent to take a phone call from the Globe and Mail.

It turned out Jacqueline’s 2014 novel, described as a deeply creepy literary ghost story, had been selected by two-time Giller Prize winner Esi Edugyan for the Globe Book Club.

“It was like this surprise gift just showed up at my door,” says Jackie.

Reviews, nominations and recognition the year following a book’s release are one thing, she explains, but for it to happen five years later is completely unexpected.

“When that first year passes, you just look at your book and think, ‘Well, that’s it, my friend,’” says Jacqueline. “It’s so great that the Globe has taken on this project – it’s a unique and brilliant way to revitalize waning books coverage across the country.”

The Broken Hours is the Globe Book Club’s second featured book; the inaugural selection was Barbara Gowdy’s The White Bone, chosen by Margaret Atwood earlier this year. In each case, the selected title is featured for a full month in the Globe’s books section, with online conversations led by Canadian authors. The supportive contextualizing of the book by Globe columnists and fellow authors Marsha Lederman, Elizabeth Renzetti, Russell Smith and Andrew Pyper has been one of the highlights of the experience so far, says Jackie.

The month-long book club wraps up this week with an onstage event in Vancouver with Esi Edugyan and Globe Book Club subscribers on Granville Island on November 28 in partnership with Vancouver Writers Fest.

“We rarely get to talk to readers and book clubs on that scale,” says Jacqueline. “I just feel so delighted, so fortunate and so grateful to the Globe and especially to Esi for selecting the book.”



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