Every Lost Country
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Every Lost Country

“A glorious novel… Suspenseful, superbly paced, stark and cinematically glamorous… recalls a Hitchcock thriller, but with better scenery—a landscape so spectacular, so sublime, it steals your breath and hurts your heart. Heighton is also a poet and his precise detail pinpoints effects, while rippling with meaning… Stunning.”
—Donna Bailey Nurse, Toronto Star

Every Lost Country, a novel published in Canada by Knopf Canada, May 2010
• in the Netherlands by Ambo Anthos, 2011
• Canadian paperback Vintage Canada, May 2011

National bestseller (hardcover fiction, May-June 2010)

A Globe & Mail Best Book

An Best Book

A Maisonneuve Best Book

Banff Mountain Book Festival Award nominee

Optioned for film by Rhombus Media

Every Lost Country is fantastic.”
National Post

“Transforms an obscure outbreak of geopolitical ugliness into a universal moral drama—like a Lord Jim for the 21st century, but told with the pace of [a]… modern thriller… There is no romance in Heighton's Tibet, no pure heroes or villains among the broad range of vividly drawn characters that inhabit it, and no easy answers to the questions raised by their often blundering, sometimes violent actions… What sets the novel far above the thriller norm is the diversity of the viewpoints it incorporates, blended invisibly into the heart-pounding narrative by means of constant small miracles of characterization.” —Globe & Mail (John Barber)

“Shockingly real… Heighton creates a poetry of people in violent motion… Like Joseph Conrad (whom he increasingly resembles in important aspects), Steven Heighton takes the bare bones of an event occurring on the borderlines of most of our geographical, political and moral experiences, and refashions it into a novel that offers readers more than [just] big ideas and beautiful language… Yes, his ideas are once again big… and his language continues to grow in beauty. But there's a quantum leap in [the] intensity of the storytelling… Every page, minor character and plot twist matters. Every Lost Country not only rivets readers to their seats, it challenges them to rethink the David-and-Goliath inequalities of this new millennium… [The novel] is more un-put-downable than many escape tales because the action and reactions of the pursued and the pursuers never break faith with reality… How many other novelists in this country… choose words so carefully or narrative strategies with such intelligence?” —Globe & Mail (T.F. Rigelhof)

“A truly exceptional novel… Every Lost Country will be cherished for its characters, who are numerous, challenging, and deeply alive; for its precise and beautiful language; and for its ambitious (and successful) effort to grapple with issues that are central to the way we live in a world of ever-increasing moral ambiguity.” —The Walrus Blog

“Heighton builds suspense, and paints unforgiving landscapes, with the same deftness he showed in his celebrated Arctic novel, Afterlands.” —Maclean's

“Vintage Heighton: poetic, precise, authoritative.” —Maisonneuve

“The writing moves skillfully through a range of registers, from tragic to (darkly) comic, intimate to political. And the magnificent setting is dramatically evoked on a lush canvas… [Every Lost Country] has an expansive moral vision wedded to a thrilling plot.” —Quill & Quire

“Heighton's novel evokes a planet of disembodied voices… [He intensifies] the suspenseful action of the narrative by switching back and forth between… escape from Tibet… and Lawson's attempt to climb Mt Kyatruk. The bone-chilling lunar landscape [is] powerfully evoked.” —The National Post

“Nuanced—and gripping… There are no unqualified villains here—just differing degrees of desperation… Heighton does well to keep the reader ever conscious of… the stinging cold and the painfully thin air… [but] the novel's strong suit is its characters and their actions are true to the dictates of their emotions… He keeps you interested in how much they will lose in the end.” —Montreal Gazette

“A gorgeous book in so many ways—well-written, packed with interesting history, and great views… Heighton writes forcefully and beautifully. He maps out the tensions inherent in the situation, and between the characters, with impressive precision… A compelling, rewarding read.” —Montreal Mirror

“Deliriously good… The plot is suspenseful, in itself enticing enough to make Every Lost Country a good read… but the quality of the language elevates the novel to beautifully complex literature. Heighton is a superb writer.” —Edmonton Journal

“Suspenseful, enlightening, and completely captivating… Steven Heighton has reached the very top with his new novel Every Lost Country.” —Halifax Chronicle-Herald

“A story of resilience, adventure, and the human spirit.” —Telegraph-Journal

“Any novel by Heighton is important… [No] outline can encompass [his] wealth of detail, or his ability to make the ordinary tactile in the reader's imagination… [He] is especially adept at rendering physical danger: the overwhelming moments of fear and exhilaration when life is threatened… one thinks of John Le Carré or Graham Greene.” —Winnipeg Free Press

“[Heighton] has expertise in writing a compelling story, with convincing characters who must make tough choices in unexpected situations.” —The Hour (Montreal)

“Beautifully crafted… deeply moving… a richly imagined, multifaceted novel about personal dreams and failures, courage, endurance and love.” —The OSCAR (Ottawa)

“A superbly crafted tour-de-force… Beautifully written, powerful, and engrossing.” —The Mark

Publisher's jacket copy:

“The longer you stare at the mountain, the more it seems a refuge above human borders and distinctions and this constant dialogue of violence. Up there, he'd hoped, he and Sophie could step away from trouble for a while.”

Lewis Book, a doctor with a history of embroiling himself in conflicts, and his daughter, Sophie, travel to Nepal to join a climbing expedition. One evening, as Sophie sits on the border between China and Nepal, watching the sun set over the Himalayas, she spots a group of Tibetan refugees fleeing from Chinese soldiers. When shooting starts, Dr. Book rushes toward the ensuing melee, ignoring the objections of Lawson, the expedition leader, who doesn't want to get involved and spoil his chance to be the first climber to summit Kyatruk. Lawson is further enraged when Amaris, a Chinese-Canadian filmmaker recording the expedition, joins Book with her camcorder in hand. When the surviving Tibetans are captured just short of the border, Lawson and Sophie look on helplessly as Book and Amaris are taken away with them, down the glacier into China. From that point, Lawson continues his ascent, and the fugitives are caught in an explosive and thrilling pursuit that will test their convictions, courage, and endurance.

From one of Canada's finest writers comes a literary page-turner of the highest order. Inspired by an actual event, Every Lost Country is a gripping novel about heroism, human failings, and what love requires. When is it acceptable to be a bystander, and when do life and loyalty demand more?

“From the opening pages, you won't be able to put down Steven Heighton's Every Lost Country. A dizzying read, it's one of those rare finds where gorgeously drawn characters and a galloping story merge effortlessly. Heighton proves himself once again a young lion of Canadian literature.” —Joseph Boyden, author of Through Black Spruce

Every Lost Country is thrillingly plotted, elegantly detailed, and alive with characters who will seem as real to you as people you've known for years and can still talk to for hours on the phone. Heighton sets them down in what is literally the world's most breathtaking landscape, at the very limits of human physiology, where the compass of moral courage points them into uncharted territory. Read this novel to be transported and enthralled.” —Jamie Zeppa, author of Beyond the Sky and the Earth