Sterns, Kate 1961-

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STERNS, Kate 1961-

PERSONAL: Born 1961, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

ADDRESSES: Home—Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Agent—c/o Random House, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.

CAREER: Author.


Thinking about Magritte (novel), Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 1992.

Down There by the Train (novel), Bloomsbury Press (London, England), 2001, Shaye Areheart Books (New York, NY), 2003.

SIDELIGHTS: Canadian author Kate Sterns was born in Toronto and raised in Kingston, Ontario. She lived briefly in England, where she worked as a stage manager before turning her hand to writing fiction. She returned to Canada, and she now resides in Montreal. As a novelist, she has garnered acclaim for a quirky writing style that is suffused with word play, allusions, and humor.

Thinking about Magritte, Sterns's first novel, tells the story of Midnight Cowboy, a crippled, emotionally immature thirty year old, through a series of sketches that take place in the town of Limestone. In this town, all the municipal buildings look the same, and so it is a simple thing to confuse the prison for the university, or the university for the mental hospital. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that "the narrative advances with zany logic: characters playfully pelt one another with vivid non sequiturs." Writing in the Review of Contemporary Fiction, Aurelie Jane Sheehan commented that "bonds between people in this novel are rendered with beauty, grace, and an absence of plebeian romance—making way for passionate, other-worldly allegiances."

In her second novel, Down There by the Train, Sterns recounts the experiences of Levon Hawke after the death of his sister Alice, maintaining the theme of death as it affects an array of characters. Reviewers once again remarked on Sterns's creative use of language. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly called the novel "the fictional equivalent of a beautiful layered dessert, . . . its narrative studded with word play, soaked in allusions." Reviewing the book for Library Journal, Debbie Bogenschutz remarked that Sterns's "use of language is first class, and readers will alternate between laughter and outrage at the antics of this crew." A contributor for Kirkus Reviews found Sterns's linguistic twists overdone, stating that "metaphors, literary allusions, and wordplay overwhelm a fragile plot." Similarly, Canadian Literature reviewer Afra Kavanagh wrote that the novel is "disappointing because it does not balance sufficiently the elements of comedy and romance." However, Kavanagh concluded that "Sterns is a first-rate wordsmith" and commended the author's "clever dialogue and dazzling images."



Booklist, November 15, 2003, Debi Lewis, review of Down There by the Train, p. 581.

Canadian Literature, summer, 2003, Afra Kavanagh, review of Down There by the Train, p. 175.

Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2003, review of DownThere by the Train, p. 1249.

Library Journal, November 15, 2003, Debbie Bogenschutz, review of Down There by the Train, p. 99.

Publishers Weekly, March 9, 1992, review of Thinking of Magritte, p. 47; November 17, 2003, review of Down There by the Train, p. 40.

Review of Contemporary Fiction, spring, 1993, Aurelie Jane Sheehan, review of Thinking about Magritte, p. 268.


Bloomsbury Online, (August 27, 2004), "Kate Sterns."

Random House Web site, (August 27, 2004), "Kate Sterns."*