The Most Precious Substance on Earth

Category: Book
By (author): Bhat, Shashi
Subject:  FICTION / Canadian
  FICTION / Coming of Age
  FICTION / Contemporary Women
  FICTION / Cultural Heritage
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Published: August 2021
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 272
Size: 8.25in x 5.45in x 0.76in
Our Price:
$ 24.95
In stock

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*A humorous coming-of-age novel and a sharp-edged look at how silence can shape a life, from the winner of the Journey Prize. A Chatelaine Summer Reads pick. Named one of the most anticipated books of the fall by CBC Books and 49th Shelf.

"But wait, what happened to the girl?"
   "I don't know," I say. I don't tell him that what will happen to her is what happens to every girl.
     Nina, a bright, hilarious, and sensitive 14-year-old, doesn't say anything when her best friend begins to pull away, or when her crush on her English teacher intensifies. She doesn't say anything when her mother tries to match her up with local Halifax Indian boys unfamiliar with her Saved by the Bell references, or when her worried father starts reciting Hindu prayers outside her bedroom door. ("How can your dad be happy when his only daughter is unsettled?") 
     And she won't speak of the incident in high school that changes the course of her life. 
     On her tumultuous path from nineties high school student to present-day high school teacher, Nina will learn difficult truths about existing as a woman in the world. And whether she's pushing herself to deliver speeches at Toastmasters meetings, struggling through her MFA program, enduring the indignities of online dating, or wrestling with how to best guide her students, she will discover that the past is never far behind her.
     Darkly funny, deeply moving, at times unsettling and even shocking, Shashi Bhat's irresistible novel examines the fraught relationships between those who take and those who have something taken. Rich with wry humour and sharp-edged insight, The Most Precious Substance on Earth is an unforgettable portrait of how silence can shape a life.
Review Quote*"How refreshing to have a character as witty, as vibrant, as sensitive as Nina. The Most Precious Substance on Earth is a brilliant, laugh-out-loud funny, and dangerously good coming-of-age story that offers sharp commentary on the very real realities women and girls negotiate every single day. Come for the laughter, stay for the wisdom. Shashi Bhat has crafted something special. More than a must-read, it is a must-share."- Téa Mutonji, author of Shut Up You're Pretty

"Honest, hilarious, and profoundly affecting, The Most Precious Substance on Earth is rife with moments of such emotional clarity they made me gasp, and are still ringing in my mind days later. Bhat writes with such a deep understanding of the world that by the end of the book, I felt I understood it a little better, too." – Amy Jones, author of Every Little Piece of Me

"A sharp yet profoundly tender coming-of-age story about silence. . . . This expertly written book will deeply move the reader."- Chatelaine
"Bhat examines how the things left unsaid affect us in a novel that is darkly funny and deeply moving." Quill & Quire

"High school is a setting ready-made for drama, a fact that Shashi Bhat exploits to great effect in her glorious novel. Bhat precisely captures adolescence with all its ennui and angst, and she is a master of observation, finding humour in the quotidian. Full of wit and insight, The Most Precious Substance on Earth is a joy to read. A sheer delight." – Sharon Bala, author of The Boat People

Biographical NoteSHASHI BHAT is the author of the novels The Family Took Shape, a finalist for the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award, and, most recently, The Most Precious Substance on Earth. Her fiction has won the Writers' Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize and been shortlisted for a National Magazine Award and the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. Her stories have appeared in such publications as The Fiddlehead, The Malahat Review, Best Canadian Stories, and The Journey Prize Stories. Shashi holds an MFA in fiction from the Johns Hopkins University. After living in several cities, including Halifax, Shashi now lives in New Westminster, B.C., where she is the editor-in-chief of EVENT magazine and teaches creative writing at Douglas College.