A BEAUTIFUL TRUTH
A novel about the simple truths that transcend species, the meaning of family, the lure of belonging, and the capacity for survival
Walt and Judy are deeply in love, but Judy longs for a child and finds that life is holding few surprises. Walt measures all beauty against Judy but doesn’t want her eyes to get any sadder. They stay side by side and search for distractions, realizing they may never have a family. On a day when hope seems low, Walt finds an unexpected opportunity in the pages of Life magazine. They meet Looee, who was born in Sierra Leone, and they raise him at home in the hills of Vermont and regard him as their son.
Looee is a hurricane in clothes. The house is torn apart, Judy asks questions of
herself, and is judged by friends and strangers, but the three of them find their
rhythm and eventually settle in to their own version of love and life between
And then one night their unique family life is changed forever.
At the Girdish Institute, a group of chimpanzees has been studied for decades. There is proof that chimps have memories and solve problems, that they can learn language and need friends. They are political, altruistic, get angry, and forgive. Mr. Ghoul has been there from the beginning, and has grown up in a world of rivals, sex, and unpredictable loss.
Looee and Mr. Ghoul travel distant but parallel paths through childhood, adolescence, and early middle age until Looee, who endures the darker side of Girdish, ends up meeting his kindred spirit long after he moves from Vermont.
This is an edgy, epic, and heartfelt story about parenthood, friendship, loneliness, and conflict, about the things we hold sacred as humans and the facts that link us inevitably to a nature we often ignore.
Told simultaneously from the perspective of humans and chimpanzees, and in a way that only a literary master such as Colin McAdam can, A Beautiful Truth is a novel of great heart and wisdom that exposes the yearnings, cruelty, and resilience of all great apes.
"McAdam's language reaches into that mysterious place where a word ends and a feeling
begins. A Beautiful Truth is a story about love and beauty and our dreams for our children
and our inescapable loneliness. The characters, human and animal, are sad and honest and
true. I could not put this novel down, and only when I finished it could I breathe again."
—Kim Echlin, Author of The Disappeared
“One of the most inventive writers in Canada.”
"[A] gut punch of a novel... This is a book that's going to get a lot of people
talking. And crying."
“Haunting. Heartbreaking. A Curious George for grown-ups, it is a tale of empathy and
honesty, deftly told and beautifully rendered.”
—Will Ferguson, Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author of 419
“In his previous novel, the Scotiabank Giller Prize-shortlisted Fall, McAdam showed
himself willing to experiment and take chances with style and narrative technique. . . A
Beautiful Truth is just as edgy but is a more sure-handed and mature work, expertly
weaving together shifts in voice and point of view and making use of a poetic language
full of direct, sensual metaphors.”
“A moving and linguistically inventive novel that examines the curious bond between
humans and apes.”
—Regina Leader Post
“Packs a huge emotional punch. McAdam has effected a true leap of empathy, and in the
process pulled off something often claimed to the point of cliché but very rarely achieved
in fiction: He makes us see the world and ourselves in a new way.”
Colin McAdam has written for Harpers’ and The Walrus. His novel Some Great Thing won the Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel Award and was nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Award, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in the U.K. His second novel, Fall, was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and awarded the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennon Prize. He lives in Toronto.