Agent—c/o Author Mail, Penguin Books Canada Ltd., 10 Alcorn Ave., Suite 300, Toronto, Ontario M4V 3B2, Canada.
Educator and fiction writer. Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, faculty member. Writer-in-residence, Tasmanian Writers' Centre and Varuna Writers' Centre.
(With Dayv-James French and Rohinton Mistry) Coming Attractions, Oberon Press (Ottawa, Quebec, Canada), 1986.
Hard Travel, Oberon Press (Ottawa, Quebec, Canada), 1989.
Poor Player, Oberon Press (Ottawa, Quebec, Canada), 1993.
Drink the Sky, Key Porter Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1999.
Foreign Correspondences: A Traveler's Tales, Key Porter Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2000.
The Corner Garden, Penguin (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2004.
Lesley Krueger is a Canadian writer who has published short stories, novels, and a travel memoir. Much of her writing, both fiction and nonfiction, concerns South America and is based on her many travels in the region with her husband, a foreign correspondent with the Toronto Globe & Mail.
Krueger's Poor Player is a novel in which Canadian actor Jack Hall travels to Central America to involve himself in the struggle for human rights. On the way, he stops off in Mexico to visit a journalist friend, Hugh Bruce, and to learn Spanish. Narrated by Bruce, who sees the world only through his literary and historical blinders, and focusing on Hall, a shallow and colorless character, the novel depicts the inability of North Americans to truly understand the societal problems in Mexico, even when they find themselves surrounded by those problems. "Krueger's narrative makes the gap between cultures extremely clear," Guy Beauregard noted in Canadian Literature. "Mexico represents the meeting point of northern idealism with southern realism," Elizabeth Mitchell added in Quill and Quire. "Class distinctions, superstitions, and the clashing of traditional beliefs with modern society are aspects of Mexican daily life that [North American governments] cannot begin to understand."
Drink the Sky, Krueger's second novel, is set in Brazil where environmentalist Todd Austen is doing work in the Amazon while his wife Holly stays behind with their children in Rio de Janeiro. Holly uses her time alone to pursue her interest in art, creating paintings inspired by stories of Charles Darwin's stay in the region. She also has an affair with a musician and must deal with another man who may be a child abuser. The couple's problems are echoed in the larger problems Todd encounters in the Amazon, where a mining company is exploiting the local Indians and despoiling the environment. As in Krueger's previous novel, "the Austens' Canadian experience is of little use in understanding the machinations at play around them," Maureen Garvie explained in Quill & Quire. "Drink the Sky is a powerful, timely, harrowing, and immensely readable book," John Walker concluded in the Canadian Book Review Annual. "Krueger adds another richly textured canvas to her gallery with her new novel," Loranne Brown wrote in the Toronto Globe & Mail.
Foreign Correspondences: A Traveler's Tales is partly a travel memoir and partly an effort by Krueger to understand the lives of her immigrant grandparents, who came to Canada from Sweden and Scotland. While she speaks of her own travels throughout the world, Krueger also tries to recapture the bravery and feelings of dislocation of her own family members. The book, Susan Highes wrote in Quill & Quire, "is full of richly detailed descriptions." "Ultimately, Foreign Correspondences is about the human need to find a sense of place in the world," Jo-Anne Mary Benson concluded in the Canadian Book Review Annual.
Krueger's The Corner Garden is a young-adult novel about fifteen-year-old Jessie Barfoot, who has recently moved to Toronto with her mother and her mother's new husband. Feeling alone in the world, Jessie unexpectedly befriends the elderly neighbor Martha von Tellingen, whose own experiences as a young girl in Nazi-occupied Holland are interwoven into the book's diary-like structure. "This demanding book challenges its readers," Margaret Mackey stated in Resource Links, adding that The Corner Garden "provides considerable food for thought as a reward."
In an interview posted on the Penguin Books Canada Web site, Krueger revealed that The Corner Garden was based on her own childhood in Vancouver, British Columbia. When she was eight years old her father, recently released from the Canadian Army, built a house for the family on Vancouver's north side. The German family next door had a beautiful garden which Krueger enjoyed secretly visiting to "make what I thought were improvements," something that did not earn the appreciation of her neighbors. The German woman who owned the garden, unable to have children of her own, nonetheless enjoyed the young girl's company and treated her well. "And so I began to think about the war, a garden, a neighbour, and The Corner Garden grew," Krueger recounted.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Books in Canada, February, 1994, Gary Draper, review of Poor Player, p. 48.
Canadian Book Review Annual, 1999, John Walker, review of Drink the Sky, pp. 175-176; 2000, Jo-Anne Mary Benson, review of Foreign Correspondences: A Traveler's Tales, p. 52.
Canadian Literature, spring, 1991, Lesley D. Clement, review of Hard Travel, pp. 151-153; winter, 1995, Guy Beauregard, review of Poor Player, pp. 139-141.
Globe & Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), April 17, 1999, Loranne Brown, review of Drink the Sky, p. D15.
Maclean's, December 4, 2000, review of Foreign Correspondences, p. 87.
Quill & Quire, January, 1994, Elizabeth Mitchell, review of Poor Player, p. 33; May, 1999, Maureen Garue, review of Drink the Sky, p. 34; July, 2000, Susan Hughes, review of Foreign Correspondences, pp. 36-37.
Resource Links, February, 2003, Margaret Mackey, review of The Corner Garden, p. 41.
Penguin Books Canada Web site,http://www.penguin.ca/ (October 2, 2003), interview with Krueger.*