Heather O’Neill, The Lonely Hearts Hotel: A Novel

(This is third of Galiano Island Books features on authors and artists attending the 2017 Galiano Literary Festival February 17-19th on Galiano Island. Tix still available (250) 539-3340 or leetrentadue@gmail.com.)

Just because we’re a little festival on a little island doesn’t mean we don’t bring some serious heavyweights to the party. In fact, it’s a great opportunity to share time and space in an intimate setting with some of Canada’s literary royalty. To that effect it’s our honor at the Galiano Island Bookstore to welcome BACK novelist, poet, short-story writer, screenwriter and essayist Heather O’Neill to the Galiano Literary Festival in 2017.

Heather O'Neill. Photograph by Roger Lemoyne

One of the reasons that I wanted to study literature was because it exposed everything. Writers looked for secrets that had never been mined. Every writer has to invent their own magical language, in order to describe the indescribable. They might seem to be writing in French, English, or Spanish, but really they were writing in the language of butterflies, crows, and hanged men. – Heather O’Neill

Heather published her debut novel, Lullabies for Little Criminals, in 2006. From Quill & Quire review, “O’Neill’s debut novel is narrated by Baby, the 13-year-old daughter of single father and heroin addict Jules. Throughout her young life, Baby is shuttled between various run-down Montreal apartments and foster homes, and spends a month in juvie for hanging out with a pimp in the park. Baby’s story, episodic in form, unfurls in the arbitrary, unscripted manner of “real life,” with none of the archetypal, cut-and-dried bad guys you might expect from an account so steeped in street-kid tragedy. Jules can be a neglectful creep, and Alphonse, Baby’s abusive boyfriend, has his genuinely sympathetic (and pathetic) moments as a character.”

The novel was subsequently selected for the 2007 edition of Canada Reads, where it was championed by singer-songwriterJohn K. Samson. Lullabies won the competition. The book also won the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and was shortlisted for eight other major awards, including the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Governor General’s Award and was longlisted for IMPAC Dublin Literary AwardLullabies for Little Criminals was a publishing sensation in Canada and went on to become an international bestseller. She was named by Chatelaine as one of the most influential women in Canada.


She’s followed up the epic success of her debut novel with other critically acclaimed works The Girl Who Was Saturday Night novel (2014) (shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize) and Daydreams of Angels stories (2015) (shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and we couldn’t me more thrilled she’s coming to the Literary Festival with her newly published work The Lonely Hearts Hotel: A Novel.

For a taste of what you might hear from Heather O’Neill at the upcoming Galiano Literary Festival check out this conversation between Zsuzsi Gartner and Heather at the North Shore Writers Festival last year…

Also check out this hilarious and provocative audio excerpt by Heather from one of our favorite podcasts This American Life

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