The Dead Husband Project | Penguin Random House Canada

The Dead Husband Project

Publisher: Anchor Canada
Perfect for readers of George Saunders, Jennifer Egan and Heather O'Neill, a rich and inventive collection of exquisite short stories by a major newcomer to Canadian literature.

In this deeply felt, compulsive and edgy work, Sarah Meehan Sirk shines a distinctive light on love and death in their many incarnations, pushing against the limits of the absurd while exposing piercing emotional truths about what it means to be gloriously, maddeningly alive.
     In "The Dead Husband Project," an artist who has planned to make an installation out of her terminally ill husband's dead body has to recalibrate when his diagnosis changes. In "The Date," an online dating match takes an unusual turn when the man who shows up to the restaurant has no face. In "Ozk," a young girl longs to connect with her socially isolated mother, a professor of mathematics who makes a radical discovery.
     Uncanny, sometimes violent, achingly sad and always profound, these stories showcase a writer with skill and empathy, and draw us in with a steady, unyielding grip.


The Dead Husband Project
Sweaty, limbs entwined, blankets kicked to the floor.
     Maureen Davis had married Joe McGovern five days earlier in a gown she’d made herself and pinned with flowers that had wilted before midnight. The ceremony bare in...
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"Fiercely imaginative, original and deeply affecting. These stories explore what is essential about human experience­­—the implications of living in a body, how the spirit is chained and defined by flesh and bone and how we escape those constraints. Sarah Meehan Sirk is a bold writer and these stories are seeking, searing and oddly beautiful. Like Margaret Atwood and Barbara Gowdy, Sirk reminds us the imagination has no borders." —Lisa Moore

"Sarah Meehan Sirk takes a sharp pen to conceptual art, dating apps, reality TV, mommy bloggers, social media and other contemporary obsessions, often marrying preposterous scenarios with ordinary concerns. . . . These surprising twists, braided with the most everyday of circumstances, make for an inventive, often intense—and highly readable—collection. . . . The writing is sharp, crisp and alive. We are inserted firmly into the action and the emotion of the story, the headspace of the protagonist and the tension surrounding him or her (usually her). . . . These concise portraits of life are often devastating—but always delightful." —The Globe and Mail

"Sarah Meehan Sirk's debut short story collection manages to transcend much of life's inherent darkness to land in a tender, human place that's recognizable to all. With a keen ear, Sirk nails the nuances of dialogue—between husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, friends and lovers—with the real kickers being the internal ones of characters struggling to give the best impression of themselves from inside their personal reality. Bypassing the formulaic and predictable, The Dead Husband Project is a stellar shout out to the power and relevance of the short story." —Toronto Star

"Sirk is a gifted stylist; her sentences are lyrical and clean and pulse with a quiet, fervent energy. The Dead Husband Project charts a world just peculiar enough to mimic the odd bends life can take, and the quiet spaces in the stories point to how the smallest of things—gaps in conversations; things that don't get said but should—can grow and fester. . . . In the hands of this storyteller, love in all its guises can, for a time, feel entirely new." —Quill & Quire

"The summer's most macabre short story collection taps into the latent horrors of modern romance. Its lovelorn heroines find themselves in all sorts of strange scenarios. . . . Sarah Meehan Sirk brings tenderness to the Gothic grotesquerie." —Toronto Life

"Sarah Meehan Sirk [is] adept at misdirection and wry comedy. If this amusing and intriguing book is any indication, she has a very promising future. . . . All of the stories . . . are powerful, intriguing and fresh. They are terse but pleasurably expandable through the fracturing of chronology and misdirection. The Dead Husband Project is a very lively read." —Winnipeg Free Press

"Sarah Meehan Sirk's stories are grandly written, stunningly beautiful, celebratory and profane. They make us laugh, break our heart. We witness a powerful and important debut." —David Adams Richards

"The Dead Husband Project is high-definition in the details of life it captures across its stories. No matter the situation—an art opening, a family vacation, the discovery of a new colour—Sirk pushes through jarring truths to subtle beauty." —Emily Schultz