What it Takes to be Human

Front Cover
Penguin, 2006 - Fiction - 292 pages
3 Reviews
What It Takes to Be Human, the haunting new novel by Orange Prize–shortlisted author Marilyn Bowering, considers the life of Sandy Grey, an idealistic young air cadet who wants nothing more than to enlist in the Second World War. Sandy's father, a fundamentalist preacher, refuses to grant his son's request, fearing that the world is living its very last days. When Sandy's attempts to oppose his father turn violent, the novel takes a dramatic shift in setting into the fragmented world of an asylum for the criminally insane. Bowering pushes her characters to the very fringe of civilization, love and sanity during the darkening days of a distant conflict to expose the acute parallels between their lives and the lives of those being torn apart by war.

"One of Canada's most eloquent storytellers has given us a compelling and exquisitely crafted tale about hope, love and creativity."—Susan Swan

"Marilyn Bowering has written an astonishing novel, full of hope and courage—a brilliant antidote to cynicism and despair."—Isabel Huggan

"Marilyn Bowering is one of our whistle-blowers. Her new book tells us What It Means to Be Human—something we seem on the brink of forgetting. Classic in form, this white-knuckle book leads us through a contemporary underworld before bringing us up, once again, to the light. Required reading!"—P.K. Page

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Review: What It Takes To Be Human

User Review  - Atef Ben Nasser - Goodreads

I was amazed by the way the storyline went back and forth, just like life, but then the ending surprised me, and made me feel betrayed by the author, she just threw it all away :( Anyway, still a good book to go through even though it failed to quench my thirst for answers. Read full review

Review: What It Takes To Be Human

User Review  - Helen - Goodreads

Given the subject - war, family, mental health, sexuality all playing an role - I expected much. Unfortunately, I was very bored throughout. Pity. Much potential but it just felt unfinished. Read full review

About the author (2006)

Marilyn Bowering was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and grew up in Victoria, B.C. She completed her M.A. degree in 1973. She has worked as a University instructor, editor, a writer-in-residence at Memorial University of Newfoundland and in communications. Her first book of poetry, The Liberation of Newfoundland, was published in 1973. Since then her poetry, drama, and fiction have been published, broadcast, and/or performed in North America, the U.K., Australia, and Japan. She won the Malahat Review Long Poem Prize in 1994, the National Magazine Award, for poetry in 1978 and 1988. She was shortlisted for the Governor General's Award, for poetry, for The Sunday Before Winter. She was also shortlisted for the W.H. Smith First Novel Award, for To All Appearances A Lady and the Sony Award and the Prix Italia for radio drama.

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