Cordelia Strube, novelist, playwright (b at Montréal, 1960). Trained as an actor, Cordelia Strube began her career in drama, first as a performer and later as a playwright for the stage and RADIO DRAMA. After moving to Toronto in the 1980s, Strube began to focus on writing, winning a CBC Literary Award for her first radio play, Mortal, in 1987. Strube went on to write 9 more radio plays for CBC Radio before publishing her debut novel, Alex & Zee, in 1994. Strube made the shift from plays to novels after being disappointed in the lack of control she had over the finished product of her radio plays. She has since made a name for herself in Canadian literature with her darkly comic novels, taking a bold, sardonic approach as she documents some of the grimmest issues in our world today.
Strube's strong and fearless survey of contemporary life runs throughout her œuvre. Her first novel, Alex & Zee, is the story of a flawed romance, marred by selfishness, self-hatred and a lack of trust and understanding. This debut struck a chord with critics, gaining a spot on the shortlist for the WH Smith/BOOKS IN CANADA First Novel Award in 1995. Her focus on the darker side of life continues in later works, particularly in 2007's Planet Reese, which depicts a divorced father who obsessively dwells on child abuse, murder and environmental degradation.
Strube's literary talent lies in her ability to place the reader into the mind of her characters, as is strongly evident in 2009's Lemon, a coming-of-age novel of a teenage girl fighting against the fast-approaching, oversexed and ultra-violent world of adulthood. Through powerfully realized characters like the eponymous Lemon, Strube takes readers into horrible situations at the lowest depths of society, but when combined with her cynically humourous slant these dark messages become less overwhelming for readers.
Although her novels have not attracted great commercial success, Strube's unique writing style has garnered her several award nominations over the years, including a GOVERNOR GENERAL'S LITERARY AWARD nomination for Teaching Pigs to Sing in 1996 and 4 ReLit Award nominations for The Barking Dog (2000), Blind Night (2005), Planet Reese (2007), and Lemon (2010). Lemon, which is Strube's 8th novel, is one of her most critically acclaimed works to date, also earning nominations for the Trillium Book Award and the SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE in 2010.