Waiting for Joe

Publisher: Vintage Canada
After you've lost it all — job, house, savings, future —what have you got left? A piercing new novel of our times by one of Canada's finest fiction writers.

On a chilly early morning in late spring, Joe Beaudry and his wife, Laurie, wake up in circumstances that would challenge saints: they are on the lam in a stolen motorhome on the edge of a Walmart parking lot in Regina, Saskatchewan. They've gone bust, spectacularly: lost the house that was Joe's gift from his dad, lost the business Joe started when he got married, and stuck his ancient father in a nursing home in Winnipeg so they could flee their creditors. Joe knows the reality of the situation, and is trying to raise enough cash to get them both to Fort McMurray where he hopes he can find work. But Laurie, even though she watched Joe trash their high-end appliances with a sledgehammer when the yard sale didn't deliver enough cash, somehow thinks it's only temporary, and maxes out their last credit card on wardrobe and hair dye and wishes and dreams. For Joe, it's the last straw in a marriage that once seemed star-crossed and now seems simply unworkable.

Pushed to figure out what to do next, Joe simply takes off hitchhiking, leaving Laurie waiting for Joe, and Joe wondering how he will ever find meaning in a world that has disappointed his every expectation. The road for both of them provides surprising answers...

From the Hardcover edition.


It is early morning when Joe Beaudry awakens to a droning sound, the ceiling fan, he thinks. His father has left it going again in his room at the back of the house. But when Joe opens his eyes, the greenish light is seeping in around the edges of the blind and he remembers that he and...
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Winner – Saskatchewan Book Awards Fiction Award

“Birdsell is one of our best writers — no compromises, no hesitance, a full canvas.”
 — Michael Ondaatje

Waiting for Joe stirs us to wonder who is waiting for us to change, move on or come home to a spiritual rest. Though close to the world of Flannery O’Connor, it is in its own special universe, the Birdsell landscape of the human heart.”
 — Winnipeg Free Press
“Powerful and compassionate.”
 — Central Plains Herald Leader
“Sandra Birdsell explores human beings with intelligence, sensitivity and wit. And there’s a wonderful clarity to her stories that fixes them in the mind and makes the imagination return to them.”
 — Calgary Herald
“In fiction what I long for is a sense of the stories being alive — all hot, rude, contrary, funny, unbearable. You don’t get that nearly often enough, but in Sandra Birdsell’s work you do get it over and over again, and she has the energy, the faith, the skill, to make her stories overwhelm us.”
 — Alice Munro

“The novel is a chilling critique of the heartland values the author knows so well. . . . Waiting for Joe is 100-percent genuine, bone-chilling Canadiana.”
 — John Barber, The Globe and Mail
“Deeply moving. . . . Birdsell draws . . . lives with vivid detail, suspense and sensitivity, creating a narrative that forces readers to keep turning the pages to find out how all the characters sort out their individual sense of ‘enough.’”
 — Edmonton Journal

From the Hardcover edition.