One of Canada’s most courageous and original literary voices, Michelle Butler Hallett writes novels, plays, screenplays, short stories and novellas. Her work, at once striking, memorable and difficult to categorize, has been praised by Books in Canada for “economy and power,” while The Globe and Mail notes that “demons are at work – the kind that lurk in the subconscious and surface, depending on the individual, as either despairing visions or acts of outright brutality. … Butler Hallett seems often to be creating from a subliminal place, riding on intuition, unencumbered by the counsel of editors.” Speaking of Butler Hallett’s first novel, Double-blind, the 2008 Sunburst Award Jury said: “Sanity, madness, torture in the name of science — Double-blind is wonderfully original while chillingly based in history. … The writing is incredibly layered, with metaphor and symbol perfectly balanced against the hard neutrality of scientific language.”
For her 2008 novel Sky Waves,Butler Hallett drew on her radio background and her troubled relationship with history to create her most ambitious work yet. Described by the author as “a demented ‘aural’ culture novel,” Sky Waves is told as a drew, that is, as the ninety-eight meshes in a row of a fishing net. Throughout ninety-eight non-linear but interconnected chapters and several different narrators, characters and storylines are networked together, almost as a mural against a timeline of 1901 to 2005. Sky Waves explores the often funny and often sad human need for – and fear of – meaningful communication.
Highly anticipated works-in-progress include a new novel and a new collection of stories and novellas.
Asked recently to describe her work, Butler Hallett replied: “a blistering fusion of history, New Romantic sensibilities, stubborn Cold War angst, steampunk, and hope. Categorize that.”
Butler Hallett adds she wants to write axe-books — ‘you know, for that frozen sea inside us’ — and refuses to apologize for violating genre boundaries.