Michael Helm

Michael Helm was born in Saskatchewan. His most recent novel, Cities of Refuge, is a national bestseller in Canada and was a Rogers Writers’ Trust Ficiton Award finalist, a Giller Prize nominee, and a Globe and Mail and Now magazine Best Book of the Year. His earlier novels are The Projectionist, a finalist for the Giller Prize and the Trillium Award; and In the Place of Last Things, a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the regional Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book. His writings on fiction, poetry, and the visual arts have appeared in North American newspapers and magazines, including Brick, where he serves as an editor. He teaches at York University in Toronto.


  • In After James, Michael Helm brings his acute, soulful intelligence to bear on the question of how we live now. He powerfully evokes the isolation embedded in our relentless hyper-connectedness. He gives us his lonely, disappearing people through a dazzling and intricate array of fictional lenses. The global and the local collapse and expand again. Language reveals its particulate secrets. Patterns are noted (or imagined). He shows us the poignancy in our human need to make sense and the distortions that come from our endless desire for answers.

    —Dana Spiotta, author of INNOCENTS AND OTHERS

  • AFTER JAMES reminds me of the best of Hawthorne and Poe–Helm crafts a masterful novel with characters whose realities melt around them. Unreliable narrators are child’s play to him: what he creates so vividly are unreliable worlds, stitched together with the creeping assertion that the objects of our perception may be as deceptive as our minds.

    —Tristan Charles, Parnassus Books

  • Michael Helm’s dazzlyingly creative work almost defies categorization. A novel in three distinct, seemingly (or not) unrelated parts, told from different points of view by unreliable narrators with waking dreams. I reveled in the language and the mystery and let it wash over me as I did Kate Atkinson’s LIFE AFTER LIFE.

    —Marion Abbott, Mrs. Dalloways