Who By Fire

Publisher: Anchor Canada
"On the page Stenson is like Frank Sinatra in a stetson--smooth and pitch perfect. And if details give literature its staying power, Stenson is writing for the ages." --Caroline Adderson, The Globe and Mail 

     The heart of this moving story belongs to Tom Ryder--a man whose expectations for the future and assumptions about his own strength and power are persistently and devastatingly undermined by the arrival of a sour gas plant on the border of his southern Alberta farm in the early 1960s. The emissions from the plant poison not only his livestock but the relationships he has with his family, most especially with his wife, Ella. The family is left without viable legal recource against the plant, and Tom must watch his farm dwindle away, his sense of himself dwindling away with it.
    The novel moves into the present with the story of Tom's son, Bill, who reacts to his father's disappointments by rising through the managerial ranks of an oil company in Fort McMurray, hiding from his guilt in the local casino. Bill pushes himself towards a crisis in conscience through a relationship he has with a Native woman whose community is threatened by the actions of his company.


   • "Intriguing, fast-paced and a delight. . . . Who by Fire is the biography of Alberta. The story we all live today." --Calgary Herald 

   • "[Stenson] has done Canadian literature a service by producing the long-awaited oilsands novel. . . . He portrays a corporate world in which oil companies have become better at speaking in soothing tones and issuing mild mea culpas, all the while speeding up their efforts to pump every last drop. And though he holds out some hope for personal healing from psychological wounds, he's clear that neither the oil companies nor the Alberta government are likely to change course." --Winnipeg Free Press