The Knife Sharpener's Bell
304 pages | ISBN 978-1-550504-08-8
**Winner of the 2010 J.I. Segal Prize in English Fiction and Poetry on a Jewish Theme**
**Shortlisted for the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards, Fiction**
Annette Gershon and her family try to escape the economic chaos of the Great Depression in 1930s Winnipeg by returning "home" to the Soviet Union. But there they find themselves on a runaway train of tumultuous events as Stalinist Russia plunges into the horrors of World War II. This story of remarkable breadth and extraordinary prose is the seldom-told tale of those who undertook that odyssey, of loyalty and betrayal, heroism and fear.
Review (Dvoira Yanovsky, The Outlook)
"One of the novel's strengths is Tregbov's ability to evoke character, taking us into the heart of each personality and creating characters that are beautifully, and frequently irritatingly, human. This effect is clearly revealed in the characters of the narrator and her mother.... The Knife Sharpener's Bell is a rewarding novel, particularly if you are already familiar with the time period and socialist issues of the day."
Review (Shawna Dempsey, Herizons)
"This remarkable novel illuminates a period of history long shielded by the Iron Curtain, as well as the complex relationship between immigration and homeland. It is also beautifully written.... It is as much an exploration of what is home as it is of history."
Review (Andrew Armitage, The Sun Times)
"Narrated decades after the events in the novel by an aging Annette now living in Toronto, the tale has actual roots in the repatriation of many Russian-Canadians to the Soveit Union in the 1930s. It's a heartbreaker, a story of poverty, injustice, bitterness and disillusionment. And with this debut novel, we are introduced to a new voice in Canadian fiction, one that I look forward to when her next novel appears."
Review (Bev Sandell Greenberg, Winnipeg Free Press)
"One of Tregebov's strengths is her ability to create vivid images.... By far, Tregebov's greatest feat is in her subtle portrayal of ordinary characters enduring life under Communism. At first, a sense of idealism prevails, but poverty, injustice and discrimination gradually give way to ambivalence, followed by bitterness and disillusionment."
Journey Through Language and Fear (Tanya Christiansen, Canadian Literature)
"Tregebov's representation of a seldom-discussed chapter in Canadian emigration history is carefully researched and wide-ranging.... Tregebov's poetic background also appears in the novel's lyrical narration."
Top 100 for 2010 (Jim Bartley, Globe & Mail)
"The imminence of disaster – sensing it will come, not knowing how – infuses this tale of a Winnipeg family resettling in ancestral Ukraine. From callow childhood to belated understanding, snapshot scenes slowly coalesce into the arc of decades. Tregebov's sorrows are admirably unlyricized, her nostalgia tart rather than sweet. The emerging Holocaust lurks like a slumbering monster, determinedly denied until it begins to claim victims."
Review (Lisa Grekul, EVENT Magazine)
"Her lyricism is present in every sentence of this novel, shaping words in potently evocative ways. Yet it remains obvious through this rich narrative that Tregebov is also an accomplished novelist."
Review (Shelley Leedahl, SPG Book Reviews)
"Tregebov's novel is strong.... I love the elegant sentences, turning on themselves, the repetitions. There's not a word out of place."
Review (Seonaid Renwick, Galiano Island Books)
"Something in the cover lured me in and then something in the first paragraph would not let me go. Rhea has written a novel so sensitively attuned to the tumultuous time and place it is set in and with such attention to the details of each character that it reads like a memoir."
About the Author
Rhea Tregebov’s first novel, The Knife Sharpener’s Bell, published by Coteau Books, won the J.I Segal Award for fiction, was shortlisted for the Kobzar Award, and was listed in the Globe and Mail’s top 100 books. An award-winning poet and celebrated author of children’s picture books, Tregebov has also edited numerous anthologies.
Born in Saskatoon and raised in Winnipeg, she did postgraduate studies at Cornell and Boston Universities, worked for many years as a freelance writer and editor in Toronto, and from 2004 to 2017 was a professor in the Creative Writing Program at the University of British Columbia. Now an Associate Professor Emerita at UBC, Tregebov continues to live and write in Vancouver.
Other Titles by this Author
Rue des Rosiers (2019)