"Slyly masks immense depth of character and emotion behind wry humor and a simple story about seemingly uncomplicated people." - Publishers Weekly
"[The novel's] characters propel the action, calling attention to narrative style only with metaphor and image – which are always arresting, always right ... an absorbing read." - The Globe & Mail
"Whitlock is an assured writer with a patient comic touch." - The National Post
"You might call Nathan Whitlock’s sense of humour the gallows kind: he readily locates the brutal and exposes its ridiculous underside. Not that he makes fun of his characters’ small, damaged lives—too much, anyway. Instead, he opens them up to reveal their working—and broken—parts.” — The Winnipeg Review
Congratulations On Everything is a dark and comic novel that tracks the struggles, frailties and cruelly Pyrrhic victories of the middle-aged owner of a bar-restaurant and a 30ish lunch-shift waitress.
Jeremy has bought into the teachings of an empowerment and success guru, hook, line and sinker. A Toronto service industry lifer, he’s risen through the ranks until he finally takes the keys to his destiny and opens his own place, The Ice Shack. Meanwhile, everyone assumes Ice Shack daytime waitress Charlene is innocent and empathetic, but in reality she’s desperately unhappy and looking for a way out of her marriage to her high-school sweetheart. A drunken encounter between Charlene and her boss Jeremy sends them both careening. The Ice Shack stops being an oasis of sanity and, as Jeremy struggles to keep his business afloat, he’ll stop at nothing to maintain his successful, good guy self-image.
In an era when foodies rule and chefs become superstars, Congratulations On Everything is a hilarious and occasionally uncomfortable dose of anti-foodie reality that reveals what goes on when the customers and Instagrammers aren’t around — and even sometimes when they are.
“Congratulations on Everything is a wonderfully complicated story about small but big ambitions, full of surprising, bittersweet twists. It’ll worm its way into your heart with its beautifully damaged characters and unexpected triumphs over the most hopeless adversities. Expect some great laughs. Do yourself a favour: Get this book!” Jowita Bydlowska, author of Drunk Mom: A Memoir
“Possibly the most entertaining book ever written about a decent guy committing self-sabotage. Reminds me of Russell Banks at his best.” Cary Fagan, author of A Bird's Eye and My Life Among the Apes
“Packed with the kind of charmingly odd, broken characters that crowd every decent bar, Whitlock's fast and funny novel explores lives that may look small from the outside but are vast and infinitely redeemable.” Katrina Onstad, author of Everybody Has Everything
“A funny, sad guided tour of the private hell that is owning a bar or restaurant. Nathan Whitlock has an ear for authentic dialogue and the constant negotiation and disappointment that is adult life. The best novel I’ve read all year. (Though I could do without so many curse words.)” Corey Mintz, author of How to Host a Dinner Party
A Week of This follows the lives of an extended family over one increasingly desperate week. Full of barbed dialogue and hilariously deadpan descriptions of family dynamics and the kind of awkward social dances that get performed every day, this is a book for people who always feel a little out of place, right where they are. People who are smart enough to know something has gone wrong, but can’t figure out how to fix it. People who know they aren’t kids anymore, but are not quite ready to grow up.
Praise for A Week of This:
"Bleak, funny, sad, smart, and unlike any novel I have ever read." – Todd Babiak, author of Come Barbarians
"A portrait of people in a small town so intimate that it feels like you are under the covers with them." – Heather O'Neill, author of Lullabies for Little Criminals
"With this debut novel, Whitlock demonstrates a keen insight into the hearts of those living lives of quiet desperation, and deeper, into the fundamental truths of the human soul." – Robert J. Wiersema, author of Black Feathers
"Any of the characters could be any one of us on any day of the week." – Ottawa Citizen
"Not your parents' classic Canadian novel [...] A Week of This might be the truth." – The Toronto Star
"It's as if he's transplanted a group of rough-edged, foul-mouthed "folk" from reality TV to the printed page and completely blown off the shallowness and the stereotypes attached to them. His characters are individuals with beating hearts and wounded histories and sentimental hopes for the future. Before long, we sink unresistingly into their stories." –The Vancouver Sun
The novel is full of intimately suggestive details [...] A nod as well has to be given to the dialogue, especially the inventive and rhythmic way the characters swear. Some of the exchanges are laugh-out-loud funny. – The Edmonton Journal
"[The character of Manda is] an impressive and unsparingly true-to-life creation." – The Globe and Mail
"Weirdly enjoyable ... Whitlock has such a fine knack for observational details that one can’t help but become engrossed. A Week of This is filled with engaging prose about the mundane." – Popmatters.com
"Filled with vibrant, gritty imagery and wondrously colourful turns of phrase ... an ideal springtime read." – Scene magazine
"A good novel can take you some place you've never been. But it takes a great one to take you some place you've been a thousand times and show it to you anew." –Winnipeg Free Press
"From the mundane, Whitlock has pulled something refreshing and beautiful." - Vue Weekly
"Whitlock takes four simple lives and puts a brilliant, page turning twist on each of them ... The novel ends on Wednesday just as it had begun and it continues in the reader's mind forever. A Week Of This is the life of each of us." – Ottawa Xpress
"What's most impressive about the book is its sense of control ... The pace is well maintained and the days pass quickly. Not, however, without having a powerful impact." – The Waterloo Record
"Whitlock has an excellent grasp of metaphor and simile, and A Week of This is a highly polished novel." – THIS magazine
“Whitlock possesses a strong command of language and an easiness with metaphor." – Booklist
"Recommended." – Library Journal