Small Change

Publisher: Emblem Editions
These twenty superbly crafted linked stories navigate the difficult realm of friendship, charting its beginnings and ends, its intimacies and betrayals, its joys and humiliations. A mother learns something of the nature of love from watching her young daughter as she falls in and out of favour with a neighbourhood girl. An intricate story of two women reveals a friendship held together by the steely bonds of passivity. A chance sighting in a library prompts a woman to recall the “unconsummated courtship” she was drawn into by a male colleague. With trenchant insight, uncommon honesty, and dark humour, Elizabeth Hay probes the precarious bonds that exist between friends. The result is an emotionally raw and provocative collection of stories that will resonate with readers long after the final page.


Elizabeth Hay's Small Change was first published in 1997. It propelled Hay into the spotlight of the Canadian literary scene, being shortlisted that year for the Governor General's Award, the Trillium Award and the Rogers Communications Writers' Trust Fiction Award. Prior to the publication of Small Change,...
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“Compelling.…These linked stories are not so much conventional narratives as unflinching meditations on ambivalent love, the only love worth writing about, as John Updike once said. What readers and even literary jurors are responding to is how close to the bone Hay’s fiction is.”
–Montreal Gazette

“One of Ms. Hay’s most remarkable characteristics as a writer is her great economy, her ability to bring time in and out, to give long thoughts in short phrases, to create levels of intimacy and encroachment, to intensify the world by making it tense.”
Ottawa Citizen

Small Change takes real risks and is an idiosyncratic and bitterly intelligent collection of stories. It is also, paradoxically, both timeless and as fresh as new paint.”
–Elisabeth Harvor

“Hay brings together in [Small Change] the revelatory power of narrative, the analytical possibilities of the personal essay and memoir, the investigative discipline of journalism, and the sudden illumination of lyric, and as a result she seems able to pick up almost everything – everything said, and most of what is only whispered in a gesture or a look between friends.…Endlessly rewarding.…These stories are beautifully written and carefully honed.”
The Malahat Review

“Stories that capture those details, moments, that someone less observant, less sensitive would miss. Language that flows as easily as water.”
–Jury Citation, Governor General’s Literary Awards

“Captivating.…Fluid, evanescent, rarely in balance, the friendships recounted in these stories are everything but peaceful.”
Toronto Star

“Hay knows how to make a line breathe, and it’s possible to open the book at random to find sharp, almost electric, prose leap out and give off light.…Through sparkling prose, Hay is able to flesh out the quirky and individual gestures that make out relationships.…”
Ottawa X Press

“One of Canada’s premier writers.…”
Canadian Forum