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Praise for The Uninvited Guest
"John Degen has hovered above us, plucked the world free of its myths and assembled them here. The Uninvited Guest is a delicate and assured investigation of the moments when we cross over into love and into death. Degen finds us when we are mortal, when we are brave, when we are victorious, when we are alone, and when we have that most tenuous of prizes: a sense of belonging. His unlikely divining rod: a hockey trophy. Making heroes of some and monks of others, Degen has made a home for them all. It is a home lighted by the sharp-edged human truths that soar through and plunder us – in their articulation, reminding us, gently, clearly, of the lives that could have been ours."
- Claudia Dey, author of Trout Stanley and The Gwendolyn Poems
"I enjoyed this book because I've lived the inside story. The Uninvited Guest offers a fictional and philosophical lens on a wide range of subjects from the lives of professional hockey players to the keepers of the Cup to Eastern European history to storytelling, and blurs the whole spectrum together in a finale full of love, community and companionship."
- Igor Larionov, three-time winner of the Stanley Cup
"Hockey, totalitarianism, and Scandinavian prostitutes - what more could one possibly ask for in a novel? John Degen's The Uninvited Guest begins with a hilarious wink at the conceits of historical fiction, and uses the parallel reality it generates as the occasion for an exploration of love and loss, success and failure, and what it means to covet something. Degen is that rarest of Canadian writers, a poet-turned-novelist with confidence in his skill and trust in his readers. The text breathes, the story tells itself, and Degen is firmly in control. I read this book straight through in one sitting."
- Andrew Potter, sports columnist
"The writing is very simple, crisp and direct... The real strength lies in the structure Degen has employed and its ability to deliver on the overall theme of the book... [S]atisfying and resonant... John Degen has written a very fine book--rarely is an uninvited guest so enjoyable."
- Steven Galloway, The Globe and Mail
"If you're fed up with the Stanley Cup residing in the southern US, read John Degen's novel The Uninvited Guest. He blends hockey, sex and a Romanian wedding in this absurdly hilarious book."
- Matthew Firth, Ottawa XPress
"Direct, deceptively easy-to-follow, and colourful writing. And along-the-way insights into Canada's national game, as well as Romania's national game... are terrifically entertaining for aficionados of either."
- Eric McMillan, Mid-Town Crier
"With entrancing storytelling, where even minor characters have depth, Degen pulls off a wild conceit linking our national game with Romaninan backgammon, amid lively lessons about bravery, risk, and luck."
—Nancy Wigston, Books in Canada
From the jury of the Books in Canada First Novel Award:
"If you could imagine Milan Kundera without attitude or arrogance, you'd be close. I'd remember this novel, if for nothing else, for the description of a Russian hockey star scoring a goal -- a moment of grace and insight, as far from Cherry cobbler as one could imagine. There are many such moments."
"Degen leaps and twists deftly with his narrative line to highlight the differing meanings a game can have in Canada and in a repressive regime..."
"Degen has elevated endless esoteric minutiae of 'the Canadian sport' into the stuff of fine narrative... echoes of Vonnegut with a hint of Damon Runyon, or Hugh Garner at his best, if he'd paid more attention to hockey."
"Who knew that the Stanley Cup's visit to a winning player's home town could turn into a look at the impact of the Cold War on gamesmanship and survival? John Degen, that's who. The Uninvited Guest should have a wide readership. There's lots to talk about in its clever pages."