Cities of Refuge: Book summary and reviews of Cities of Refuge by Michael Helm

Cities of Refuge

by Michael Helm

Cities of Refuge by Michael Helm
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published in USA  Mar 2013
    424 pages
    Genre: Novels

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

In Cities of Refuge, a single act of violence resonates through several lives, connecting close by fears to distant political terrors. At the story's center is the complex, intensely charged relationship between a twenty-eight-year-old woman and the father who abandoned her when she was young.

One summer night on a side street in downtown Toronto, Kim Lystrander is attacked by a stranger. Thrown deep into turmoil, in the weeks and months that follow, she confronts her fear by returning to the night, in writing, searching for harbingers of the incident and clues to the identity of her assailant. The attack also torments Kim's father, Harold, a historian of Latin America. As he investigates the crime on his own, the darkest hours from his past revisit him, and he gradually begins to unravel. Entwined in their stories are Kim's ailing mother, Marian; Father André Rowe, whose mission to guide others involves him in a decision with troubling consequences; Rodrigo Cantero, a young Colombian man living illegally in the city; and Rosemary Yates, a woman whose faith-based belief in the duty to give asylum to any who seek it, even those judged guilty, draws Harold to her, before a fateful choice changes the future for them all.

Cities of Refuge is a novel of profound moral tension and luminous prose. It weaves a web of incrimination and inquiry, in which mysteries live within mysteries, and stories within stories, and the power to save or condemn rests in the forces of history and in the realm of our deepest longings.

Read a Sample

Click to the right or left of the sample to turn the page.
(If no book jacket appears in a few seconds, then we don't have an excerpt of this book or your browser is unable to display it)

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Standout ...[T]his is a powerful depiction of the struggle to overcome adversity." - Publishers Weekly

"[W]hat [Helm] shows in a remarkable display of multiple-perspective sympathy, is how, in a world where we're all inter-connected as never before, guilt and innocence are all but impossible to apportion with finality... Cities of Refuge establishes him as one of Canada's most commanding writers." - Montreal Gazette

"Cities of Refuge's...thematic breadth pushes Helm into the front ranks of Canadian novelists." - Quill and Quire

"Let me state simply that this is one of the finest books I have read in recent years. …This is not just a novel set in Toronto; it is about Toronto and it is the most discerning description of the city since Michael Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion ...In his luminous prose, Helm has dared to go beyond the psychological level to the level of spirit." - Literary Review of Canada

"[A] stunning read...gripping, thought-provoking, ultimately haunting... Cities of Refuge may be the future of The Canadian Novel: intrinsically and internally varied, polyvalent, confident, contemporary and challenging. If this is the future, bring it on." - Edmonton Journal

"Helm writes delicately and empathetically, using a photographer's eye and poet's lyricism to ... illuminate the consequences of violence and loss." - Elle Canada

The information about Cities of Refuge shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

More Information

More Information

Michael Helm was born in Saskatchewan. His most recent novel, Cities of Refuge, is a national bestseller in Canada and was a Rogers Writers' Trust Ficiton Award finalist, a Giller Prize nominee, and a Globe and Mail and Now magazine Best Book of the Year. His earlier novels are The Projectionist, a finalist for the Giller Prize and the Trillium Award; and In the Place of Last Things, a finalist for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and the regional Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book. His writings on fiction, poetry, and the visual arts have appeared in North American newspapers and magazines, including Brick, where he serves as an editor. He teaches at York University in Toronto.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more novels...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: All Our Wrong Todays
    All Our Wrong Todays
    by Elan Mastai
    You need a great deal of time to read All Our Wrong Todays, but don't let that put you off. ...
  • Book Jacket: Dadland
    Dadland
    by Keggie Carew
    In her notable debut, Keggie Carew examines the life of her father Tom, a decorated war hero whose ...
  • Book Jacket: Piecing Me Together
    Piecing Me Together
    by Renee Watson
    Race and class in American culture certainly dominate the news right now. These two things seem to ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Atomic Weight of Love
by Elizabeth J. Church

In the spirit of The Aviator's Wife, this resonant debut spans from World War II through the Vietnam War.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Mercies in Disguise
    by Gina Kolata

    A story of hope, a family's genetic destiny, and the science that rescued them.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Lola
    by Melissa Scrivner Love

    An astonishing debut crime thriller about an unforgettable woman.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

I always find it more difficult to say the things I mean than the things I don't.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

O My D B

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -