Gail Kathryn Anderson-Dargatz, née Anderson, novelist, short-story writer (b at Kamloops, BC 14 Nov 1963). Raised in rural BC, Gail Anderson-Dargatz began submitting fiction to little magazines and contests while working as a reporter, photographer, and cartoonist for the Salmon Arm Observer. One short story caught the attention of Jack Hodgins, who encouraged her to become one of his students at the University of Victoria.
Anderson-Dargatz's first book, The Miss Hereford Stories (1994), a collection of short stories, was nominated for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. Her earlier story, "The Girl with the Bell Necklace," was the winner of the 1993 CBC Literary Competition, and served to inspire Anderson-Dargatz's first novel, The Cure for Death by Lightning (1996). In the story, Beth Weeks, the adult narrator, reflects upon the peculiar events of the summer in which she turned 15. The work is emblematic of the author's fiction in that it is set in the rural West and infuses humour with the characters' surreal, often mystical, experiences. The novel was one of the best-selling Canadian books of the 1990s, received the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Books in Canada First Novel Award.
Commercial and critical success continued with Anderson-Dargatz's second novel, A Recipe for Bees (1998), another Scotiabank Giller Prize nominee. Incorporating family photographs and inspired, in part, by her parents' story and the illness of her husband, the novel is perhaps her most personal work. In A Rhinestone Button (2002), Anderson-Dargatz recasts the story of Job in a comic light on a modern day Alberta farm. Here again, Anderson-Dargatz brings together comedic realism with mysticism to produce a novel that provokes both thought and laughter.