"In Gunn’s narrative, we switch channels back and forth between the tempestuous reunion in 2002 and the Santoro family’s hardships from Mussolini’s era onwards. . . . Gunn’s depiction of David as the bewildered confidante and reluctant siphon for his aunt’s tale of woe is perfectly drawn. He doubles as a cultural translator for the novel itself, unexpectedly immersed in passionate Italian intrigues as a polite, trustworthy, respectful and somewhat aloof Canadian.Gunn succeeds in making us curious; and she succeeds in making us care about the characters. Solitaria is a deeply moving, intellectually stimulating, complex and fully realized novel..."– BC Bookworld
"A rivetting tale of sacrifice and obligation, of vision and revision, of vengeance, betrayal, and ultimately, redemption. Through the brilliantly quixotic voice of Piera, Gunn enlivens the Italy of the 1940s and deftly draws us into the complex, compelling story of la Solitaria. With a filmmaker's eye for sharp shifts in point of view and a master storyteller's ear for spoken and unspoken truths, Gunn keeps us wondering to the very end, Who in this family can we believe?"
– Merilyn Simonds, author of The Holding
"[Gunn] brings dusty Italy to life, moving from 1926 up to 2002. [She] gives us the poverty, the clearly defined sex roles, a Canadian confusion when confronted by vendettas, and she manages to have seven different voices speaking solo, then in harmony, then in spiteful duets. There's even a surprise crescendo at the end. . . . as [characters] give their versions [of the story], and fill in the blanks, we are reminded that a traffic accident seen by seven different people may have seven different versions. But only Piera knows the most important facts -- and like any good storyteller she knows when to pause, so that the rush to the revelation at the end has the most power. Like a good aria.” – Winnipeg Free Press
Tracing Iris / The Riverbank (film)
"Writing on many levels at once is a skill that Gunn draws on with great success . . . Gunn develops a lively cast of characters – a collection of idiosyncrasies rife with strengths, weaknesses, fault lines and hidden passages – to create multi-dimensional, heartbreakingly human people. . . the way Gunn enfolds you into the mindset of her main characters is particularly moving, and her sensitive rendering of love and loss is remarkably astute.” -subTerrain, Fall/Winter 2002
“In her latest novel, Tracing Iris . . . Gunn confirms her special skill for weaving complex narrative patterns."
- Books in Canada, September, 2002
“Gunn is a skilled layerer of foundations . . . If one of the chief jobs of a novelist is to raise as many questions as she answers (and stimulate further reading), Gunn definitely achieves this . . . Tracing Iris digs deep. There’s little comic relief in this harrowing novel by a gifted West Coast writer.” - The Globe & Mail, November 2001
“Gunn is. . . interested in probing Kate’s emotional wilderness...and deftly selects words for their sound as much as for their meaning. She introduces sections with italicized poetic meditations, soothing and jarring the reader by turns, a device that aptly reflects Kate’s tormented inner world." -Quill & Quire, October 2001
The Riverbank John L'Ecuyer 2012
Run time: 80 min. | Canada | Language: English
Based on the novel Tracing Iris by Genni Gunn, The Riverbank is an ingenious psychological thriller, placing at its dark centre a flawed but redeemable heroine, Kate Mason (Matchett), a thirty–something social anthropologist returning to the emotional crime scene she reluctantly calls home. While Kate mercilessly unearths the remnants of a life littered with evidence of abandonment, lies and loss, she also unravels the coil that binds her to Iris, the mother she never knew. Montreal’s John L’Ecuyer’s first feature film, Curtis’s Charm received a Special Jury Citation as Best Canadian Feature Film at the 1995 Toronto International Film Festival. The Riverbank was produced by Paul Stephens whose previous producer credits include In Darkness (nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2011 Academy© Awards). Distributed in Canada by College Street Pictures.
Thrice Upon a Time
"Thrice Upon a Time is a wildly inventive novel..."
– The Ottawa Citizen, Fall 1991
"There's a far-reaching imagination at work in this book.."
- The Globe & Mail, August 1990
"Genni Gunn's fine novel, Thrice Upon a Time, is a challenging combination of narratives that rewards the extra effort needed to read it...This novel is a creation of much originality, very successful in its newness, and well arranged -- the sort of book one wished would continue another hundred pages."
– University ofToronto Quarterly, Fall 1991
"Thrice Upon a Time is impressive in both craft and complexity."
– Books in Canada
"The poet in Gunn transforms the terrain into a magical and memorable landscape." – Kingston's Alternative Bi-weekly
"... a beautifully written, many-layered novel."
-- The Whig-Standard
© 2020 Genni Gunn