Janice Lynn Mather: A new and brilliant voice in Canadian literature

Linked Stories From Nassau. 

People Just Don’t Understand

By Stephen Weir Wow – the young-uns knew a long time ago what an incredible story-teller Bahamian Canadian author Janice Lynn Mather is. Later this month it will be the adults turn to discover this Governor General's Literary Award-winning novelists with the release of her new book Uncertain Kin.

The Vancouver based writer first made a name for herself here in Canada with her first two books, Learning to Breathe and Facing the Sun. Not only did the Young Adult titles make a splash with junior high schoolers they won awards and were nominated for some biggies too.

Now she is about to return to the bookstore shelves with her first adult work of fiction.  

Uncertain Kin is a collection of linked stories about the lives of women and girls living in The Bahamas and Canada. Eighteen strange haunting stories introduce us to women and girls searching for identity and belonging during moments of profound upheaval.

“I like to refer to myself in the third person,” she told the Caribbean Camera. True to form Mather describes herself as though she was standing on the sidelines watching herself in the distance.

Janice Lynn Mather is a writer and a Bahamian.  She is also a vegan, an introvert, a book hog, a drifter off in meetings, an intermittent blogger, a yogi, a grower of food, a brewer of kombucha, a purveyor of all things natural, the owner of an afro, a homer for sunshine, a collector of essential oils and a glutton for the sea.”  

Third person, or First person, she doesn’t talk much about herself beyond saying that she went to university in Canada, is married with a child and lives in Vancouver. Mather however will talk about this book and what lies ahead for her career.

“Yes, there are parts in the various stories that might seem dark and mysterious, but a lot of chapters are based on things that happened (in the Bahamas) that I haven’t forgotten,” she exclaims.

Murders. A crying baby found floating in a boat cradled by her dead parents. All the chapter length tales steeped in the folklore of the Bahamas. “The stories dips in and out of time,” Mather explains. “We see Priscilla as a young (15 years old) pregnant girl staying in hiding at her grandmother place.  When we see the character again, she is a grandmother herself.”

The Caribbean runs deep. When Caribbean Cameras ask her if she returns to Nassau often, the answer is that that prior to Covid she tried to get back yearly. 

“Do you miss the Caribbean?”  I ask. “Of course, but when people here ask me how I could leave Heaven, I have to laugh (people just don’t understand everything is not what it seems.)”

In "Mango Summer," little girls from a village begin disappearing from their beds during one lush, steaming August. In "Morning Swim," a jogger, newly diagnosed with cancer, makes a sinister discovery on the beach. In "Boyo," a woman new to this country struggles to plant roots in Vancouver a city that doesn’t seem to want her or her young son.  

This extraordinary collection of stories won’t be difficult to find in the bookstores. Its cover could be a metaphor for the emergence of this new voice in Canadian literature. A beautiful woman floating on her back, lightly kick paddles down into a darkening green blue sea. 

What next? Wait out the launch and the media blitz that comes with it, then, she says its hopefully back Nassau for a visit. If it is ever slow again she will juggle parenting with finishing the next book she has already started.




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