Photo Credit: Jan Vanveen
Sharon Butala’s new novel begins with the wrong kind of bang when retiring social worker Judith falls on the ice on the way to her retirement party. The debilitating concussion that follows seems to shake loose a confusing whirl of memories.

Judith is a mother of four, and her relationships with her daughters are complicated. They all seem to have men trouble, except for the wild daughter who seems to have settled down, inexplicably to Judith, in Jerusalem. With her ears still ringing and her strength compromised by a shaky recovery, Judith leaves Calgary and, to everyone’s bewilderment, moves back to the town near the family farm. In Wisdom, Saskatchewan, she confronts many unanswered questions: Why was her father, a World War Two vet, so troubled? What are her brother and sister hiding from her? As she pursues answers to unsolved mysteries in her own life, more complicated and wider ranging questions arise.

Living in a small town is a shock after the anonymity of a big city. Judith finds herself exposed to watchful neighbours, and she is watchful in turn, seeing things that are mystifying at first–and then alarming. Small town bigotry and what looks like a serious crime unfolding in the house next door make her return even more difficult–what is she doing here? Does she have enough wisdom to unravel her past? Does she have a future in a place where she is not exactly welcome?

This thought-provoking and very readable tale shows not only the suffering that comes from family secrets, but also unfolds one woman’s late life awakening to the complex shadows cast by World War Two and the Holocaust.
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I don't think I would ever have believed it when, in 1978, I set out to be a writer, but I've finally broken the twenty-two books mark! That's twenty two books published and one to go in the next couple of years, never mind the ones I wrote and either destroyed (my true first novel which I'm guessing was awful), and the ones I gave up on and then plundered for parts I used elsewhere. Never mind the magazine and newspaper articles and the few poems and the five plays (all produced but unpublished except for one in an anthology - at least, as far as I can remember). Or the dozens of talks, some ponderous and dull and one or two successful in that people actually seemed to listening. I'm surprised my condo doesn't sink into the earth with the weight of all that paper. But I shredded a ton or two of it, and sent some to the U of Regina library archives; I can't trust computers and thumb drives and so on to keep records into posterity, and keep imagining a future civilization with no recorded past. Is this just the usual, boring longing for immortality?

And still I get up most mornings and write - I can hardly believe it myself.

At the moment I'm working on essays and at last I don't feel like a poseur, but instead, like somebody who has something to say and pretty much knows how to say it. I can hardly believe that either, but gosh it feels good.
Photographed by tali shany/tlv/israel
Image by Duane Prentice  
Having spent the last few years concentrating on being old in North American society and on the deleterious effects of the ever-present ageism, she is turning back to fiction. Many years ago she chose as her subject the lives and subculture of the rural agricultural people, especially the women, of the Palliser Triangle of the southern three Canadian prairie provinces. Leaving Wisdom is, she hopes, the last of this series. Now she is turning back to memoir, her third and most daring and revelatory, still in progress. Who knows what will come next? This writer doesn’t plan to quit until the last clod of dirt is thrown on her coffin.

About the Author

Sharon Butala is the author of twenty-two books of fiction and nonfiction, numerous essays and articles, some poetry and five produced plays. She published her first novel in 1984, Country of the Heart, which was nominated for the Books in Canada First Novel Award, followed closely by a collection of short stories, Queen of the Headaches (shortlisted for the Governor General's Award). Since those heady early days, she has continued to write bestsellers and win literary awards.

She was born in Nipawin, Saskatchewan. After graduating from the University of Saskatchewan, already married and soon the mother of a son, she taught English in Saskatchewan and British Columbia and in Nova Scotia worked with street teenagers in a program she designed. In 1969 she returned to Saskatoon, soon divorced, and in 1976 remarried and moved to her husband, Peter Butala’s ranch in southwest Saskatchewan. In 1996 they donated some of their land to the Nature Conservancy of Canada and along with the provincial government and many donors, helped create the 13,000-acre Old Man On His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area. Since her husband's death in 2007 and after 33 years living in the heart of the land, Sharon now lives and writes in Calgary, Alberta. Some of her books have been published in Israel (short stories called Saskatchewan in Hebrew), by Virago Books in the UK, by Hungry Mind in Minnesota, USA, HarperCollins (spiritual) in the USA, and in Serbia and in French in Saskatchewan and launched in Quebec. Also, selections are in anthologies in Viet Nam and Hong Kong. In fact, her stories and essays have appeared in over 35 anthologies.

In the last few years, having finally recognized she wouldn’t live forever, she turned to writing about the lives of aging people, what it’s like to be old in this society, and the omnipresent ageism that blights lives. Beginning with a "Walrus Talk" on ageism in 2017, she continues to give talks on these subjects which, although touching on loneliness, grief and loss, are also about the richness of the inner lives of the thoughtful old, and the gifts they have to offer society.

BUT nowadays, her interests are turning elsewhere. She is currently working on a third memoir, tentatively titled, Breathing Water. This one delves into the never-spoken-of, the buried life-secrets, the drive to re-understand and re-write one’s life, and the both fascinating and horrifying search for one’s, until now, unrecognized personal narrative thread. It’s a shocking, revelatory journey, building on The Perfection of the Morning (1994), and Where I Live Now (2017) both of them finalists for the Governor General’s Award as well as other nominations and wins.

Sharon’s books have been on the Canadian bestseller lists, including her memoir, The Perfection of the Morning, which reached #1 in July 1994 and remained on the list for over a year. All her recent books including, Leaving Wisdom were also on bestseller lists (however briefly!).

Sharon has read all over Canada and in the United States (did two book tours there) as well as in Mexico, the Czech Republic, Ireland and Israel. Over the years, she has been a guest at most literary festival in Canada and some US festivals, as well as teaching dozens of writing workshops from Haida Gwai to Victoria, Montreal and Toronto. She has been a guest at the “Geography of Hope” conference on Wallace Stegner, at Point Reyes Station, California, presented at “Speak to the Wild,” dedicated to the politics and poetics of wilderness, at Wells Gray Provincial Park, BC., in 2010 at “Living Between the Lines: Transgressive (Auto)Biograph as Genre and Method,” Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic, and in 2022 spoke on aging and writing for a conference at the University of Kerala, Kerala, India.

Her interests are wide and she has spoken at the 2017 "Nature Talks" series on the grasslands for the Nature Conservancy of Canada, 2017 Walrus Talks, the Edmonton Jung Forum, the Banff Centre for the Arts Book Discussion Weekend, the “Books ‘n’ Brunch” series in Toronto, the UBC and Hollyhock’s “Summer Speakers’ Series” in Vancouver, the Vancouver Institute, and was a keynote speaker at the narratology conference at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, N.B., and at the International Grasslands conference in Winnipeg, MB, and in November, 2012, delivered the inaugural annual lecture at University of Saskatchewan’s Creative Writing program in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Most recently, she spoke to the over 100 year-old Calgary’s Women’s Literary Club on reading and postmodernism and to the Saskatoon branch of Women’s Alumni Association.


Sharon is the recipient of many awards, including:
W.O Mitchell Book Prize Award for short story collection Season of Fury and Wonder
Shortlisted for the Saskatchewan Book Awards Publishing Category for Zara's Dead
Governor General’s Award for NonFiction, shortlisted for Where I Live Now
W.O. Mitchell, shortlisted for Wild Rose
University of Alberta, DLitt (honaris causa) June, 2013
Cheryl and Henry Kloppenburg Award for Literary Achievement
Saskatchewan Order of Merit
The Girl in Saskatoon, shortlisted for Arthur Ellis Crimewriters of Canada nonfiction Award
The Girl in Saskatoon, Globe & Mail one hundred best books of 2008
The Girl in Saskatoon, Shortlisted, Saskatchewan Book Awards, nonfiction prize
Chosen as one of 100 Alumni of Influence by University of Saskatchewan to celebrate its Centennial Anniversary in ‘07
The Girl in Saskatoon, Globe & Mail Bestseller list, #7, April 19. (On Wstrn Cdn newspapers’ bestseller lists)
Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, selected to appear in exhibit, “The Order of Canada: They Desire a Better Country.” (June 7/07 opening, for one year)
April, Featured writer: Her-icane Festival, Saskatoon. Certificate of Artistic Achievement for contribution to Sk Lit Arts
Painting by Manon Elder, “The Tea Party” series, 22 Canadian Women of Influence, bought and displayed by University of Ottawa
Nonfiction Award, Saskatchewan Book Awards for Lilac Moon
Lilac Moon Chosen for “The Globe’s Top 100 Books of 2005”
Appointed Distinguished Fellow, St. John’s College University of British Columbia
Lilac Moon on bestseller lists.
Theatre Saskatchewan Inc: Publication of “Rodeo Life”
Honorary Doctor of Letters, University of Saskatchewan
Honours Award, University of Saskatchewan Alumni Association
Appointed Officer, Order of Canada
Awarded Queen’s Jubilee Medal
Old Man On His Back, bestseller lists
Wild Stone Heart, bestseller lists
Awarded Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of Regina
Marian Engel Award for Women Writers in Mid-Career ($10,000)
Canada Council Literary Award ($20,000)
Gold Award, Western Magazine Awards
Coyote's Morning Cry, Shortlisted, Sk.Book Awards "Book of the Year". 22 weeks on bestseller lists.
Shortlisted, Cdn. Booksellers' Association, "Author of the Year." Paperback bestseller list
The Perfection of the Morning. #1 on bestseller list (July)
Sk. Gold Award, Western Magazine Awards for "Dances With Woodchucks. Western Living, Oct.'93
Readers' Choice Award, Prairie Schooner, Lincoln, Nebraska for "Telling the Truth," and "Postmodernism."
Sk. Book Awards: "Spirit of Saskatchewan" and "NonFiction" Awards
Honourable Mention, Western Magazine Awards, for "A Change of Heart,"Western Living, Oct.'92
Shortlisted, Governor General's Awards for NonFiction
Shortlisted CBC Awards for "Act of Love" (fiction)
Sk. Gold Award for "A Change of Heart."
Canada 125, Commemorative Medal
Shortlisted CBC Awards for "Postmodernism" (fiction)
First for Paperback fiction (Fever) Cdn. Authors' Awards
Member Achievement Award, Sk. Writers' Guild
Runner-Up: Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Fever
National Magazine Awards: Silver for fiction, "Justice."
National Magazine Awards: Hon. Mention for "Field of Broken Dreams." in West
Western Magazine Awards: Two nominations for "Field of Broken Dreams," in West
Shortlisted CBC Awards for "Desire" (fiction)
Sk. Writers'Guild, Major Drama Award for "The Element of Fire."
Canadian Fiction Magazine: Annual Contributors' Prize for "The Prize."
Senior Arts Grant
Canada Council "B" Grant
Writers' Choice selection for The Gates of the Sun
Sk Writers' Guild Major Drama Award: Natural Disasters
Sk. Arts Board Individual Assistance Grants, '84 & '81
Governor General's Awards for Fiction, shortlisted for Queen of the Headaches
Shortlisted, Best First Novel Award, Books in Canada for Country of the Hear
Sk. Writers' Guild Long Fiction Award for Shortgrass (Became Queen of the Headaches)
Recent Work Recent WorkRecent Work


Leaving Wisdom (Thistledown Press, June, 2023) In what is probably the last of her series of books on the culture and lives of the rural agricultural people of southwest Saskatchewan, especially the women, Butala has her protagonist return to the village of Wisdom from which, as a 15-year-old, she ran away. Now 65, two broken marriages behind her and mother of four grown daughters, a severe concussion forces her into returning, whereupon the unrecognized and refused reasons for that long-ago escape will be revealed, including the antisemitism, inter-generational trauma from the European past, and murder.

This Strange Visible Air (Freehand Books, 2021) In this incisive collection, Sharon Butala reflects on the ways her life has changed as she’s grown old. She knows that society fails the elderly massively, and so she tackles ageism and loneliness, friendship and companionship. She writes with pointed wit and acerbic humour about dinner parties and health challenges and forgetfulness and complicated family relationships and the pandemic — and lettuce. And she tells her story with the tremendous skill and beauty of a writer who has masterfully honed her craft over the course of her storied four-decade career. An elegant and expansive look at the complexities and desires of aging and the aged.

Season of Fury and Wonder - out on May 1st, 2019 - is a collection of short stories in which each protagonist is an old woman, each aged between seventy to one hundred. A theme is how the past infiltrates and informs the present whether wanted or not; another is how unconscious ageism blights the lives the old, and a third is what becomes of the dreams and desires of youth and how such longings transform and provide insight, even wisdom, in old age. ALSO, each story is a response to a 'great' short story or literary work of the 19th-20th century, from that of Hemingway, Munro, Carver, Joyce, Flannery O'Connor, Edna O'Brien, Chekhov, Poe and others.

Zara's Dead, Sharon's new novel, published in May, 2018. This is a mystery with Fiona, the protagonist, now seventy, still angry at the unsolved murder of a young woman with whom she once went to school many years earlier. Zara had been a beauty queen, a promising young woman who dreamt of great things for herself, all snatched away in a few savagery-filled moments, followed by an investigation that almost immediately stalled, then failed. Fiona wants to know why, and she still wants to know who did it. This latter information, when she finally finds it, will alter not only the lives of others, but her own life forever.

Where I Live Now, Sharon's latest memoir, published in April 2017. This memoir is about a life lived on the land in southwest Saskatchewan, both idyllic and difficult and which, after 33 years, ended with the death of Butala's husband. The book goes on from there to follow her through her grief, sorrow and many losses as a new widow, to her struggles to make a new life in the city. As well as offering solace and hope, this book inspires others making the same difficult but ultimately joyful journey.

Wild Rose, a novel, published in September 2015, is of the earliest part of the settlement era on the prairies, about Sophie, a young Quebecoise mother who finds she has to make her own way in what was then decisively a man’s world. Wild Rose, an epic story of The West, now long gone, charts Sophie’s journey from underloved child in religion- bound rural Quebec, to headstrong young woman to exhausted homesteader to deserted bride and mother to independent businesswoman finding her way in a hostile, if beautiful, landscape. (Coteau Books)

To purchase Wild Rose online, go to Coteau Books
Wild Rose is available in bookstores.

Saskatchewan, a selection of Sharon’s stories, translated into Hebrew and launched in 2015, Tel Aviv, Israel, (Margena Publishing, 2015)

The Girl in Saskatoon: A Meditation on Friendship, Memory and Murder (HarperCollins, 2008), a nonfiction work about, among other things, the unsolved murder in Saskatoon, back in 1962, of a young woman with whom Butala attended high school. It was an event that shook the city to its core and which no one has been able to forget. Butala probes the background to this fact, and in this book, also examines a forward-looking pioneer society.


Review: Sharon Butala captures indomitable spirit of the West in Wild Rose
Author of the article: Catherine Ford
Published Feb 13, 2016 • Last updated Feb 18, 2016 •
Sharon Butala.
There is only one word appropriate for Sharon Butala’s latest book: Beautiful. Wild Rose is simply beautiful.
No words of mine can do it justice because reading Wild Rose is a lock on your heart, a catch in your throat and best of all, a glimpse into the lives of our great-grandparents and every other immigrant to a wild and unforgiving land. The CPR may have “opened” the West, but it was those people who came to the ed of the line, or close to it, who took the promise of a new life and land and left everything and everybody they knew to be pioneers.
This is not the romanticized version told in hindsight, but the harsh reality of such a life. And, full disclosure — I devoured this book before Christmas, but could not find the appropriate words to review it. Then I decided that there was no way to find the perfect words but to be honest — I loved this book.
Wild Rose is not a new story, but it reads like one because it is told from a woman’s viewpoint. How refreshing is that? It is a reminder that of all the hard work to wrest a living from a harsh land, it was the pioneer women who held up at least half of that expanse of blue sky; maybe more, as they plowed an seeded and harvested and bore the children, too. Indeed, Butala dedicates the book “to the women who settled western Canada.”
Sophie Charron is young, naïve and in love. The “adventure” of heading west from their small Quebec village with her new husband, Pierre Hippolyte, means freedom from her unloving, cold grandparents, with whom she lives. It’s an escape from the rigid traditionalism and even more rigid life circumscribed by the Catholic Church. They travel by train to the flat expanse of Saskatchewan to claim their homestead by looking for the survey stakes. There is nothing else around for miles. Together. Sophie and Pierre clear the land, put up a one-room house and she bears a son, Charles.
So far, this is a familiar story. But Pierre disappears and in his place arrives the land speculator to whom Pierre haso sold everything out from under her. The law offers Sophie nothing; a real situation that was not rectified until after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the Murdoch vs Murdoch case in 1973 that a farm wife had no claim on land held solely in her husband’s name, regardless of the work she did throughout their marriage. Eventually, after an outcry across the country, the laws were changed. But all this would happen nearly 100 years after the fictional Sophie was left destitute. How she and toddler son survive is the true heart of the story.
In an interview published in The Herald, Butala (who now lives in Calgary) describes the genesis of the book as a realization that in her previous books, she had never told the women’s side of the settling of the west. “I thought I don’t think I have succeeded in telling the story about women who were like the women of my family. They suffered tremendous hardships and struggles but were never defeated by what happened to them, who never lost their dignity and who always remembered who they were and what they believed their lives stood for. I wanted to create a woman like that.”
Sophie is the woman she created. It’s tough to believe she isn’t real, especially when Sophie muses she “knew the women didn’t speak of freedom and she wondered what it was they did speak of: marriages, children, houses, gardens, not even of education. But she had wanted more than the things the women spoke of . . . she had grasped onto the word ‘freedom’ and taken it as her own.”
Had Sophie been a real person, I could imagine she would have caught the attention of best-selling author Margaret MacMillan whose 2015 Massey Lectures were turned into her new book, History’s People: Personalities and the Past. Sophie would fit right in with Nellie McClung and sisters Susanna Moodie and Catharine Parr Trail.
At one point in Wild Rose, Pierre says to Sophie: “You wanted the West didn’t you? Now you are the West.”
Indeed, particularly those of us who choose to live in the West, we are the West and Sharon Butala has captured the indomitable spirit not only of the pioneer women, but all the rest of us, too.
WILD ROSE by Sharon Butala (Couteau Books; $21.95; 395 pages)
(Catherine Ford is a retired Herald columnist.)


August 17, 2015 ~ Elaine Dewar, author of Smarts: The Boundary-Busting Story of Intelligence (Debonair[e]Books, Trade paperbacks, 2015) 
“I read Wild Rose in the hospital while S. was being treated. This turned out to be wonderful: It took me immediately away from my own concerns to the prairies and into the life of Sophie, her grandparents, her brothers, her Pierre. It is in every way a page turner. There is something downright magical about the way the story unfolds from the present to the past and back again. I will read it again to see if I can see the change-ups coming, but it is so beautifully wrought that there are no seams, you’re just here with Sophie and there with her and right inside her skin. Loved the sense of place, the drive for freedom, the terrors of freedom. The thing that really got to me is Sophie’s sense of a spiritual reality, something quite separate from the rituals of the church. It’s a terrific read.”


Books (Memoir, Fiction, Nonfiction)
The Strange Visible Air
Season of Fury
Zaras Dead
Where I Live Now
Wild Rose
The Girl in Saskatoon
Lilac Moon
Real Life
The Garden of Eden
The Perfection of the Morning
Wild Stone Heart
The Fourth Archangel
The Gates of the Sun
Country of the Heart
Old Man On His Back
Coyotes Morning Cry
Queen of the Headaches


Billy Bock: An Entertainment - One act, an adaptation for stage of humourist and songwriter Billy Bock’s material. Directed by and with Gabe Prendergast as Billy Bock. Production March 5/94, Eastend, Sk.

Rodeo Life - Three acts, Commissioned by and produced at Twenty Fifth Street Theatre Centre in Saskatoon, Feb. 4-18/93. Direction, Tom Bentley-Fisher. With Sharon Bakker, Rob Roy, Karen Turner, Beata van Berkom, Carol Greyeyes. Published in 2005 by Playwrights’ Union of Canada and Theatre Saskatchewan, Theatre Saskatchewan Anthology, Write On.

The Element of Fire - Three acts, Produced by Pink Ink Theatre Productions, Vancouver, October 1989, 4 week run. Director, Sandhano Schultze. With Pat Armstrong, Ellie Harvie, Celine Lockhart and Sarah Rodgers. Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild Major Drama Award, 1989. (Judges, Judith Thompson and John Murrell.)
A Killing Frost - Written with Sean Hoy. One Act. Produced in workshop, Regina, Spring, 1988. Vancouver Fringe Festival, Fall 1988. Director, Donna Peerless, with Sean Hoy and Karen Austin. Victoria Fringe Festival, 1988. “Emerging Artists 1988” Festival, White Rock, B.C.

Natural Disasters - Two acts. Staged reading, Regina and Saskatoon, 1985. Medicine Hat College Drama Department, November 1985 (or ‘86?). Director, Bob Mumford, student cast. Saskatchewan Writers Guild Major Drama Award, 1985.

Sweet Time - Three-act pageant-play. Produced by the people of Eastend, Summers of 1984 and 1989. First production with Gordon Tootoosis. Director, Andy Tahn. Cast, people of Eastend.
Zaras Dead
Fiona Lychenko – now a woman in her late sixties – has spent years researching the death of her high school classmate Zara Stanley, who was brutally murdered at the age of twenty. Determined to solve the crime – something the police weren't able to do – Fiona interviewed everyone she could in her hometown of Ripley, but every trail led to the same dead end. She even published her findings in a book, hoping it would lead to anonymous clues from readers and outliers, and still – nothing. Now, a decade later, Fiona has finally given up hope that the killer would ever be caught.

That is until a brown manila envelope turns up under her door and Fiona once again finds herself embroiled in the midst of a controversy so intricate and tangled that one wrong move could be her undoing.

Based on the true story of the murder of Alexandra Wiwcharuk in 1962 in Saskatoon, Zara's Dead is the fictional retelling of a very real story, one that has captivated the public and eluded answers for decades.
The Strange Visible Air
A collection of essays on women and aging

“What I didn’t have a clue about was that I was soon to be old, or what being old would mean to my dreams and desires. While dreading old age with every fibre, I was at the same time in full denial that it would ever happen to me, and so, was shocked down to the soles of my feet when it did.”

In this incisive collection, Sharon Butala reflects on the ways her life has changed as she’s grown old. She knows that society fails the elderly massively, and so she tackles ageism and loneliness, friendship and companionship. She writes with pointed wit and acerbic humour about dinner parties and health challenges and forgetfulness and complicated family relationships and the pandemic — and lettuce. And she tells her story with the tremendous skill and beauty of a writer who has masterfully honed her craft over the course of her storied four-decade career.

Butala gives us a book to be cherished — an elegant and expansive look at the complexities and desires of aging and the aged, standing in stark contrast to the stereotyped, simplistic portrayals of the elderly in our culture. This Strange Visible Air is a true gift.
Season of Fury
Season of Fury and Wonder - is a collection of short stories in which each protagonist is an old woman, each aged between seventy to one hundred. A theme is how the past infiltrates and informs the present whether wanted or not; another is how unconscious ageism blights the lives the old, and a third is what becomes of the dreams and desires of youth and how such longings transform and provide insight, even wisdom, in old age. ALSO, each story is a response to a 'great' short story or literary work of the 19th-20th century, from that of Hemingway, Munro, Carver, Joyce, Flannery O'Connor, Edna O'Brien, Chekhov, Poe and others.
Where I Live Now
“It was a terrible life; it was an enchanted life; it was a blessed life. And, of course, one day it ended.” —Sharon Butala

In the tradition of Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, Diana Athill’s Somewhere Towards the End, and Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal comes a revelatory new book from one of our beloved writers.

When Sharon Butala’s husband, Peter, died unexpectedly, she found herself with no place to call home. Torn by grief and loss, she fled the ranchlands of southwest Saskatchewan and moved to the city, leaving almost everything behind.

Out of this hard-won new existence comes an astonishingly frank, compassionate and moving memoir that offers not only solace and hope but inspiration to those who endure profound loss.

Often called one of this country’s true visionaries, Sharon Butala shares her insights into the grieving process and reveals the small triumphs and funny moments that kept her going. Where I Live Now is profound in its understanding of the many homes women must build for themselves in a lifetime.

Simon & Schuster Canada
Wild Rose, Sharon’s most recent novel, published in September 2015, is of the earliest part of the settlement era on the prairies, about Sophie, a young Quebecoise mother who finds she has to make her own way in what was then decisively a man’s world. Wild Rose, an epic story of The West, now long gone, charts Sophie’s journey from underloved child in religion- bound rural Quebec, to headstrong young woman to exhausted homesteader to deserted bride and mother to independent businesswoman finding her way in a hostile, if beautiful, landscape. (Coteau Books)

Coteau Books
In 1961, a country singer named Johnny Cash chose a beautiful young woman named Alexandra Wiwcharuk to be his "Girl in Saskatoon" and sang to her in front of a hometown crowd. A few months later, Alex was found brutally murdered on the banks of the Saskatchewan River. Sharon Butala's high school friend Alex had dreamed of becoming a glamorous stewardess; she had been crowned a beauty queen in local pageants; she was a nurse. Her killing brought an entire city to a stop. Why was Alex's murder so haunting? And why did Butala return some forty years later to reconstruct Alex's life and search for answers?

Butala faces the horror of these long-ago events to create a lyrical portrait of a world where life appeared so much simpler, when young country girls like Alex came to the city and dreamed their dreams of love and marriage as life stretched before them. The Girl in Saskatoon is, at once, an in-depth investigation of an unsolved murder, a nostalgic coming-of-age story, an eloquent meditation on the nature of good and evil, and an affirmation of the true meaning of a life.

HarperCollinsPublishersLtd. - A Phyllis Bruce Book
ISBN: 9780002007207; ISBN-10: 0002007207
HarperCollins Canada
From the author of the much-loved The Perfection of the Morning comes a unique vision of the West.

Sharon Butala challenges stereotypes and myths, not just those held by Canadians from the East, but those held by Westeners themselves. From the pioneer past to party politics, from rural legends to urban realities, Butala blends her own experiences with the great themes of Western life.

z #1 National Bestseller
Winner of

HarperPerennial - A Phyllis Bruce Book
ISBN-13: 978-0-00-639481-5
Harper Perennial Canada
In this new collection of ten stories, Sharon Butala once again demonstrates why she ranks among our finest short story writers. Her unforgettable style - spare but intense, indelible in its drawing of character - brings these stories to life in quiet but powerful ways.

Real Life resonates with the same authenticity and strength that characterized her last award-winning story collection, Fever. Set in western Canada, familiar Butala territory, these stories of women in moments of crisis - a dying sister, a failing marriage, a love lost, a random act of violence that changes a life forever - are compelling and unsentimental. Yet there are threads of common experience that reach from story to story and create a web of universal experience: the pain of losing love and the sense of personal failure that accompanies it; the ways in which poverty can destroy the human spirit; the reality and demands of death; the joy that children can bring. Butala's women are scarred but resilient. They face what the future brings with both wisdom and hope, recognizing in other women and the men in their lives the challenge of finding and keeping happiness.

Critics have found in the writing of Sharon Butala a steady light that both uncovers and illuminates human experience. Real Life captures well the emotional risks that we must face as part of loving. What is real about these stories is Butala's unwavering faith in the ultimate goodness of the human heart.

HarperFlamingoCanada - A Phyllis Bruce Book
ISBN: 0-00-255402-x
HarperCollins Canada
Iris, a farmer's wife living comfortably near the small town of Chinook, finds her life suddenly out of control. Jolted out of her complacency by death, grieving for lost love, guilty over an aging mother, she sets out on a quest for self-understanding. If only she can find her niece Lannie, whom she once raised, perhaps she will be able to understand her troubling dreams, the mysterious ache in her heart. But does Lannie want to be found? Or is Iris the one who is really lost?

The Garden of Eden is brilliantly imagined novel of family disintegration and renewal written in the simple but powerful style that so endears her to her readers. Grounded in the prairie landscape that Butala has made very much her own, it is at the same time a universal story interweaving history, myth, dream, and vision. It explores with passion and insight the inextricable relationship between the land on which people live and their secret inner landscapes.

Sharon Butala's clear-eyed rendering of the lives of ordinary people, her profound respect for what the land can teach, and her remarkable ability to capture the inner life, make The Garden of Eden a novel of great richness and compassion.

The Garden of Eden is a sequel to her first novel Country of the Heart published in 1984.

HarperFlamingoCanada - A Phyllis Bruce Book
ISBN: 9780006485032
ISBN-10: 0006485030
HarperCollins Canada
In 1976, Sharon Butala left a promising academic career to marry a cattle rancher in southwest Saskatchewan. Overwhelmed by the isolation of her new life, she struggled to find a connection with the land that encircled her. What could she learn from ancient wisdom that would enable her to make the land her own? Would she ever find a place for herself in this new, selfsufficient community? Would she have the courage to translate her personal crisis into words on a page? In The Perfection of the Morning - at once a meditation on the world of nature and a personal exploration of the roots of creativity - Butala embarks on a spiritual journey, seeking to define herself as a woman and as a writer. Through history, dream, vision and the reality of everyday life, she creates a rich portrait of her outer landscape - the southwest corner of Saskatchewan near the Montana border - and her inner one, the world of artistic imagination.

Evocative and moving, remarkable in its honesty and insight, this book is a revelation of self and an affirmation of the healing power of Nature. Infused with the richness and clarity of theme that so characterizes Butala's writing.The Perfection of the Morning continues, ten years later, to echo in the mind and heart.

#1 National Bestseller

HarperCollinsPublishersLtd. - A Phyllis Bruce Book
ISBN-10: 0-00-639401-9
ISBN-13: 978-0-00-639401-3;
HarperCollins Canada
In a seemingly ordinary field on Sharon Butala's land in southwest Saskatchewan lie the secrets of the past. When she and her husband, Peter, decided to let the field return to its natural state, the wonders of the prairie landscape began to reveal themselves to her. Over a twenty-year period, as she walked this field, she tried to understand what lessons could be learned from its mysterious markings, its wildlife, grasses and plants, its massive rocks and boulders deposited there as the glaciers retreated. The field became a tabula rasa on which she could project her own dreams and imaginings about the landscape that has informed her writing and inspired her life.

Wild Stone Heart is the brilliant companion volume to The Perfection of the morning, a resonant and deeply moving exploration of both past and present. Butala travels back in time as she wanders the field; from the dinosaur period and the Ice Age, to the more recent life of the Amerindians and the arrival of the settlers. Her keen intelligence ranges over prehistory, natural history, Amerindian custom, the farming and ranching ways of life, and the politics of the West today. We discover with her the animals and plants that live in the field, the mysterious stone remnants of the nomadic way of life, the ghosts and visions that come to her in her wanderings. Wild Stone Heart is also filled with touches of Butala's wry humour as she watches Nikon-laden tourists pouring into the tiny town of Eastend in the wake of the discovery of a T-Rex skeleton. It captures brilliantly the collision of past and present and one woman's search for her own place in the world.

HarperFlamingoCanada - A Phyllis Bruce Book
First HarperFlamingo ed.ISBN: 0-00-255397-x
First HarperPerennial Canada ed.ISBN: 0-00-639129-x
Paperback ISBN: 9780006391296; ISBN-10: 000639129X;
HarperCollins Canada
Without excessive show or ornament,Sharon Butala has created a collection of highly charged, emotional stories that delve into the secret lives of men and women. As Butala skillfully peels back her characters' defenses, she compels the reader into a world of vulnerability, revealing both strengths and frailties of the human spirit. This now classic work is infused with an intensity that often catches its readers off-guard, making Fever an honest and powerful experience.

HarperPerennialCanada - A Phyllis Bruce Book
ISBN: 9780006391821; ISBN-10: 0006391826
HarperCollins Canada
In the prairie town of Ordeal, on the eve of the millenium, members of the dwindling farming community brace for a rally planned to coincide with the provincial premier's visit. Broken by years of drought and government indifference, this is their last-ditch effort to save what's left of their town and way of life.

But strange and fantastical visitations - far more momentous than that of the premier - are already taking place, drifting like wisps of fog in and among the townspeople.

As the community wages its mortal struggle for survival, history slips its moorings, emerging to signal the imminence and inevitability of change, and an end to life as we know it.

The Fourth Archangel is Sharon Butala's deeply moving and mournful elegy to a land and a way of living that have all but disappeared. Yet she brings both to vibrant, memorable life giving strong and enduring voice to our eternal, passionate struggle to live with the land, to be true to it and to love it.

The Fourth Archangel is the third of a loosely-connected trilogy about rural life. The first is The Gates of the Sun, and the second is Luna. This one is located mostly in the town and is set in what was then the future - the year 2000.

ISBN: 0-00-223757-1
Trade Paperback ISBN 0-00-647404-7
Selena knows the meaning of sacrifice. After twenty years on her husband Kent's Saskatchewan ranch, the rhytms of children, family and tradition are bred in her bones.

The women around Selena all contend with the conventions that surround them: her aunt Rhea endures change with an almost mystic wisdom, her married sister Diane harbours a lingering wish for a different life in the city, and Phoebe, Selena's daughter, faces a choice that might force them all to reconsider the beliefs they have always known.

Infused with Sharon Butala's singular ability to communicate the textures of rural life, Luna is a remarkable and compassionate novel that moves beyond the life of a prairie woman to capture what it means to be female in the modern world.

Luna is the second of a loosely-connected trilogy of novels about rural life. This one is the women's story and takes place in what was then the present.

Luna is constructed as a modern version of the Greek women's mysteries.

HarperPerennialCanada - ISBN-10: 0-00-648540-5 .. ISBN-13: 978-0-00-648540-5
HarperCollins Canada
Outlaw, rancher, lover, father ----- this powerful portrait of a fiercely independent cowboy brings alive the vastness of the prairie life.

The Gates of the Sun is the first of a loosely-connected trilogy of novels about rural life. This one is the male story, the settlement story and takes place in the past.

ISBN-10: 0006475353
ISBN-13: 978-0006475354
Nominated for a Books in Canada First Novel Award, this resonant novel of love and loss explores the texture of rural family life:

Iris, seemingly happily married to Barney, a rancher-turned-farmer, has surprisingly fallen in love with Jake, an old man who still radiates the power of the legendary cowboy he once was; Lannie, Iris's troubled niece, judges Iris for her weakness nearly as harshly as she judges herself.

Set in a beautifully realized prairie landscape, and presenting the heroines of Butala's acclaimed novel The Garden of Eden for the first time, this novel rings with passion and authenticity.

HarperPerennial - A Phyllis Bruce Book
ISBN-10: 0-00-648158-z
HarperCollins Canada
One night, in the first year of their marriage, Doug suddenly turned to Chloe and said, "I don't know what would have happened to me without you. You brought my life in from chaos." Four years later, chaos threatens to engulf Chloe herself when she realizes that her husband is in love with another woman.

Rather than join Doug on an academic sojourn in Scotland and try to win back his love, she returns to Saskatchewan, the land of her French- and Anglo-Canadian ancestors.

Ironically, Chloe's avoidance of the present forces a confrontation with the past. Amid the deeply riven conflicts of language and culture, faced with ancient hostilities and personal loss, Chloe explores the unfamiliar terrain of her own psyche, and finds an independence she has never known.

HarperPerennial - A Phyllis Bruce Book
ISBN: 0-00648113-2
HarperCollins Canada
Photography by: COURTNEY MILNE

The Old Man On His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area (OMB) is a 13,OOO-acre preserve established by the Nature Conservancy in cooperation with a number of partners, among them the land donors, Peter and Sharon Butala. In this beautiful pictorial tribute to the OMB, Sharon Butala and Courtney Milne combine their talents to explore the grasslands that are the essence of their home province.

Sharon Butala's insightful narrative not only describes her personal landscape, a landscape that her many readers delight in, she considers the intersection of the past and the present on the OMB. She takes us back to prehistory, when glaciers scraped the soil from the land, and describes the various ways of life that have tried to take root: from Aboriginal hunters and gatherers to ranchers, settlers, and today's farmers. With her far-ranging vision and questioning mind, she raises important and challenging questions about the meaning and value of land. Photographer Courtney Milne roamed the hills of the OMB in all seasons. His stunning colour photographs of the OMB capture its delicacy, its subtle shadings and its drama: from misty morning hills to fiery sunsets, from lightning storms to delicate spring flowers. Together, Butala and Milne have created a portrait of the natural world that is both reflective and inspirational.

The OMB is the Nature Conservancy of Canada's flagship grassland project and, thanks to its wise stewardship, this area will be preserved for all Canadians. Old Man On His Back captures the essence of a priceless part of our country. This happy blend of image and text will delight all those who care about our natural heritage.

HarperCollinsPublishersLtd. - A Phyllis Bruce Book
ISBN: 0-00-200085-7
HarperCollins Canada
Coyote's Morning Cry is a collection of brilliantly simple, yet profound meditations that explore our need to understand and be true to ourselves. In her deeply moving The Perfection of the Morning Butala began a process of self-awareness that took readers into her daily life as a rancher's wife and struggling writer in southwest Saskatchewan. Now, in Coyote's Morning Cry, she revisits that familiar landscape and journeys beyond it, searching for meaning not only through the natural world but through the world of dream and vision.

These short meditations offer new meaning to ordinary experience and range over areas that inform all of Butala's work as a writer: the power of Nature to heal and transform, the wisdom of dreams, the deceptions of success, the changing nature of love.

Written with Sharon Butala's characteristic clear eye and scrupulous honesty, Coyote's Morning Cry will inspire, challenge and comfort people of all ages.

ISBN: 0-00-255430-5
HarperCollins Canada
SHARON BUTALA first attracted national attention in Oberon's short story collection Comming Attractions.

She followed this with Country of the Heart, a finalist for the Books in Canada First Novel Award for 1984. In QUEEN of the HEADACHES, Butala returns to short fiction with this bold and striking collection. The people in these stories are familiar - the friends, neighbours, relatives of our everyday life. Sharon Butala reminds us that each is remarkable and unique.

Nominated for the 1985 Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction

This is the second book in her first collecdtion of short stories. Currently out of print, rights reverted to the author.

ISBN: 0-919926-48-7
Publisher: Coteau Books
Photography by: TODD KOROL

Harvest follows one family, Henry and Frieda Peters and their children, who farm near Hanley, Saskatchewan.

The outstanding photographs by Todd Korol record one harvest on the Peters's farm, from the start-up to the final, satisfying days of loading the bins and seeing the fields of stubble.

The popular essay by awardwinning writer Sharon Butala looks at the significance of the harvest throughout history and at the role of the family farm as a vital element of the culture, economics, and history of the Canadian prairies.

Together, the photographs and essay are a beautiful and lasting tribute to the prairie harvest, the powers of nature, and the hardworking people who farm the land.

Fifth House Publishers.
ISBN-10: 0920079954
ISBN-13: 9780920079959