Shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor General's Award for Fiction, and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize

In 1968, into the beautiful, spare environment of remote coastal Labrador, a mysterious child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor girl, but both at once.

Only three people are privy to the secret — the baby's parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbour, Thomasina. Together the adults make a difficult decision: to raise the child as a boy named Wayne. But as Wayne grows to adulthood within the hyper-masculine hunting culture of his father, his shadow-self — a girl he thinks of as "Annabel" — is never entirely extinguished, and indeed is secretly nurtured by the women in his life.

Haunting, sweeping in scope, and stylistically reminiscent of Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex, Annabel is a compelling tale about one person's struggle to discover the truth about their birth and self in a culture that shuns contradiction.


  • Short-listed, Governor General's Award: Fiction 2010
  • Short-listed, First Novel Award 2011
  • Long-listed, ReLit Awards: Novel 2011
  • Winner, Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award 2011
  • Short-listed, CBC Bookies: Best Overall Book 2011
  • Commended, Vancouver Sun Top 10 Canadian Books of the Year 2010
  • Short-listed, Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize 2010
  • Commended, New York Times Editors' Choice 2011
  • Short-listed, CBC Bookies: Best Scene 2011
  • Commended, Globe and Mail Top 100 Books of the Year 2010
  • Commended, Quill and Quire Books of the Year 2010
  • Commended, Best Books of the Year 2010
  • Short-listed, OLA Evergreen Award 2011
  • Short-listed, Scotiabank Giller Prize 2010
  • Winner, Independent Literary Awards 2010
  • Long-listed, IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2011
  • Short-listed, Orange Prize for Fiction 2011


...a stunning novel, one of the rare kind that might well imbed itself permanently in a reader's psyche.

- Rosalie MacEachern

. . . a captivating romantic novel with a happy ending.

- Jim Taylor

Winter's dazzling debut addresses the riddle of gender and the tragedy of conformity with astonishing insight and eloquence.

- Richard Labonte

. . . utterly original . . . a haunting story of family, identity, and the universal yearning to belong.

- O Magazine

A book like this, its topic and beautiful language, the unrelenting sorrow, Winter's insightful characterizations and utter sensitivity, is difficult to do justice to with these few words. I simply want to tell people: read this book. Read it though you know little or nothing about its subject or the author. It will open you up. It will change you.

- Ottawa Citizen

Annabel is an unforgettable novel of struggles, personal and inter-personal, and Winter's empathetic voice does them justice in a way that connects reader to story. Destined to be one of the biggest novels out of Newfoundland this year, this is a story of isolation and a communication breakdown that breaks a family down, and breaks the reader down along with them.

- Chad Pelley

The Montreal-based Winter, a native of Newfoundland, possesses a rare blend of lyrical brilliance, descriptive power and psychological and philosophical insight...A compelling, gracefully written novel about mixed gender that sheds insight as surely as it rejects sensationalism. This book announces the arrival of a major writer.

- Kirkus Reviews

. . . a poignant and powerful first novel . . .

- Donna Bailey Nurse

...a sprawling book filled with musical prose...

- Emily Landau

Annabel's strength lies in probing the dilemma of sexuality and self-knowledge. I have never read such an intimate portrait of a person struggling to live inside a self that the world sees as a dreadful mistake.

- National Post

Reminiscent of Jeffrey Eugenides' magnificent 2002 novel Middlesex, Winter's treatment of such a delicate issue is amazing and incredibly engaging. Her novel is written with immense sensitivity and grace, not to be missed.

- Jim Piechota

. . . a confident, serious debut.

- Carrie O'Grady

. . . Annabel is a novel about divisions, not only between the sexes but also between social classes and, perhaps most crucially, ways of being . . . Winter does a deft job of developing all the characters fully and making their motives understandable . . . It's to Winter's credit that both the fear and the beauty are given vivid expression in this finely crafted novel.

- Barbara Carey

This is a remarkable first novel, an accomplished debut by an exciting new voice with a confident, mature style.

- Vanessa Berridge

. . . beautifully paced, sometimes shocking and never prurient.

- Maggie Fergusson

[Kathleen Winter's] lyrical voice and her crystalline landscape are enchanting.

- Sally Law

Read it because it's a story told with sensitivity to language that compels to the last page, and read it because it asks the most existential of questions. Stripped of the trappings of gender, [Kathleen] Winter asks, what are we?

- Globe and Mail

Annabel is a stunning and stirring debut that signals the long-overdue arrival of a literary talent.

- Halifax Chronicle Herald