The Student

by Cary Fagan

May 4, 2019
5.5 x 8, paper, 184 pages
CDN $21.95

Order The Student now


Longlisted for the City of Toronto Book Award


A portrait of a life in two snapshots

It’s 1957 and Miriam Moscowitz is starting her final year of university with unwavering ambition. She is a passionate student who studies hard, dates a handsome Jewish man with a good job, and is the apple of her father’s eye (and worry of her mother’s). But when a meeting with a professor she admires turns sour, her dreams of a life immersed in literature are extinguished and—perhaps for the first time—she becomes unsure of how to break a path for herself.

It’s 2005 and Miriam is readying her backyard for a wedding. She picks up one of her books from 1957 and reads the marginalia written in her young, minuscule handwriting. She wonders what the young person who had written all these words almost half a century ago has to do with the older woman who is deciphering them now.

The Student is a compassionate and compelling novel that brings together two pivotal times in history. In beautiful prose, it reveals how we are shaped by – and try to overcome – the contraints of our times.

Advance Praise for The Student

“In The Student, Cary Fagan has not only crafted a vivid portrait of a woman in her youth and old age, but also an intriguing meditation on what changes and what remains the same over time.” –Elyse Friedman

“Cary Fagan’s brilliant and loveable female heroine Miriam Moscowitz is so real she seems to live and breathe the same air as her readers.” –Susan Swan

A marvel of compression, The Student is a spirited gem of a novel. Cary Fagan captures with wisdom and intimacy the passions that sustain and shape individuals into their best selves. Exploring Toronto’s fledgling diversity of the 1950s and its blossoming in the aughts, he reveals how, even as communities change, the need for the models preserved in literature does not. I loved this book!” –Carol Bruneau


Reviews and Interviews

“Toronto author Cary Fagan’s latest novel, The Student, seems like one of his best. It has the agreeable quality of being both simple and deep, with prose as clear as a smooth pond whose waters go to impressive depths.” –Bill Gladstone, Canadian Jewish News

“It is the richness of his characters, his insistence on revealing their full humanity, that resonates from one generation to the next. The truth of their struggles, the pain of their suffering, their resistance to — and activism in shaping — the society and history pressing in around them.Fagan has created an accurate portrait of two key moments in history. Even those of us who weren’t there can feel it.” –Kevin Keystone, Literary Review of Canada

Review in the Winnipeg Free Press

Feature on Where in Canada column on All Lit Up