Winner of the 1991 McNally Robinson Award for Manitoba Book of the Year


Fox, Margaret Sweatman’s debut novel, is a phenomenal work of historical and postmodern fiction. When Fox burst onto the literary scene in 1991, it was clear a singular talent was at work. Decades later, Fox’s deft examination of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike is a startling reminder of the dangers of xenophobia, bigotry, greed, and fear. In a novel of remarkably vivid, kinetic power, the collision of the wealthy and working classes after the First World War becomes a backdrop for the timeless conflict between desire and human idealism.

In addition, Alison Calder’s new essay examines the impact of Fox and its contribution to the landscape of Canadian literature.

Winner of the 1991 McNally Robinson Book of the of the Year award
Advanced Praise

Fox is a book one dreams of reading. It moves with elegant surprises, with cold passion, through the intricacies of love and language and politics. The Winnipeg General Strike becomes an alchemist’s retort in which lives are transformed by the infinite varieties of desire. Margaret Sweatman speaks wonders from a world we thought we knew. 

Robert Kroetsch


Fox belongs among important Canadian historical novels such as In the Skin of a Lion, The Temptations of Big Bear, Icefields, and Alias Grace. 

Quill & Quire

Fox is a considerable achievement for Margaret Sweatman.... She has managed to find that precarious balance between eth­ics and aesthetics, between moral vision and the hedonistic pleasures of literary postmodernism. For that reason, Fox is a significant contribution to the literature of the Canadian West.

NeWest Review

Book Club Questions
  1. Before reading Fox, what did you know about the Winnipeg General Strike? What is the reason behind your presence or absence of knowledge? Would you call this story one of national importance? Why or why not?
  2. On pages 26-27, MacDougal’s bookstore is visited by a dominion censor. What are your attitudes towards literary censorship? Are some forms more acceptable than others? Is censorship even feasible in our technological era? If not, what effect does this have on our society?
  3. Fox is written in a number of different voices and styles. What effect does this structure produce for you, as a reader? Are there certain narrative benefits to this structure? Disadvantages?
  4. Among these voices in the novel are those of numerous women. Does this book have a feminist agenda? If so, what is it (or is there more than one)?
  5. On page 89, we learn that Eleanor experienced a traumatic event at the hands of her late brother, Tony. In what ways do you think this experience influences her actions throughout the book? Use specific examples in your response.
  6. Sweatman uses a number of real news headlines from 1919 that capture the attitude towards certain minority groups in the city (for example, p. 122, 132, 173). In what ways have these attitudes changed today? In what ways are they the same? Is this problematic for you?
  7. Are there other themes/attitudes expressed in Fox that are still relevant today, almost 30 years after the book’s first publication?
  8. Scenes of Mary and Drinkwater’s wedding alternate with scenes of the arrest of various strike leaders. What effect is produced by mixing these two events?
  9. Do you think Stevie had to die? (What does his death signify?) How would the tone of the book’s conclusion have changed if it had been the death of another character (say, Eleanor, or MacDougal)?
  10. What is the significance of ending the narrative with a quiet moment with the Canon?
  11. What do you make of the List of Illustrations at the end of the book? Why do you think Sweatman chose to place them here, at the end of the book?
  12. Why is the novel called “Fox”?
  13. Have you had the opportunity to read other works by Margaret Sweatman? If so how would you place Fox among her body of work?
  14. Fox has been adapted to a stage play. Do you like theatre? Which scene do you think would be the most challenging to adapt and stage?&

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