Annabel Lyon, novelist, short story writer (born Brampton, Ont 1971). Annabel Lyon was born in Brampton, Ontario, but moved with her family to Coquitlam, British Columbia when she was a year old. She obtained a BA in philosophy from Simon Fraser University and an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. In addition to teaching creative writing at the University of British Columbia, Lyon has taught piano. Her writing spans novellas, short stories, including the collection Oxygen (2000), the young adult novels, All-Season Edie (2009) and Encore Edie (2011), and highly acclaimed novels. Her work has been recognized with nominations for numerous prizes.
Lyon's collection of three novellas, The Best Thing For You (2004), was nominated for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. Each of the novellas circulate in an upper-middle-class milieu, where gentrification is a subtle, constant pressure, and seemingly small decisions have unforeseen, lasting consequences. Her debut novel, The Golden Mean (2009), was nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor General's Award for English-language fiction, and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, which it won. The novel speaks from Greek philosopher Aristotle's point of view and works in its structure to inhabit the same perfect balance that its protagonist so urgently seeks. Lyon's second novel, The Sweet Girl (2012), again immerses the reader in Aristotle's time, taking the perspective of his daughter, Pythias, as a young woman. She navigates the turbulent times following the death of Alexander the Great and her father, and a social millieu that places great restrictions upon women, with innate strength and the unusual skills acquired during her upbringing. Long-listed for the 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize, The Sweet Girl received substantial critical attention.
Lyon's prose walks, sure-footed, between philosophical discourse, formal precision, and the details of everyday life. Whether her protagonist is a preteen, hell-bent on sisterly revenge and daydreaming of witchcraft to save her ailing grandfather, a bored war-time housewife with an extraordinary plan, or Aristotle worrying about the nature of nature, Lyon's characters evoke the vacillations of the human heart with the thoroughness of a bomb maker. Her spare prose is deceptive; it is as methodical and surprising as cut stone, or a landslide shorn away from itself. Lyon tells of her father teaching her to write when she was six. Some of his rules, she says, were "If you've said something in six words, you can say it in four," and "Get to the point." Annabel Lyon's writing gets to the point, and does so with crystalline poise.