IAN THOMAS SHAW
I am a Canadian novelist, who writes both under the pen name Con Cú (owl in Vietnamese) and my own name of Ian Thomas Shaw. My pen name was derived from a nickname given to me by a Vietnamese friend, whose stories about Vietnam and coming as a child to Canada inspired my first novel, Soldier, Lily, Peace and Pearls. I was born in Vancouver, British Columbia. For the last 34 years, I have worked as a diplomat and as an international development worker, living in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. I currently live in Aylmer, Quebec (just outside of Ottawa). My second novel, Quill of the Dove, is a blend of literary fiction and political thriller set against the Lebanese Civil War and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Quill of the Dove was published by Guernica Editions on April 1, 2019. In June 2019, it was optioned by Original Pictures for a TV limited series. Quill of the Dove was published in 2020 in Spanish (Ediciones Dokusou) and in 2021 in German (Verlag LiteraturWissenschaft). I am the founder and main editor for Deux Voiliers Publishing (25 books edited), and the founder of the Prose in the Park Literary Festival and the Ottawa Review of Books. I am a member in good standing of the Quebec Writers Federation.
Let's link up on
Spanish rights have been sold to Dokusou Ediciones and German rights to LiteraturWissenschaft Audiobook rights have been sold to Snowdog Professional Services (Audiobook Division). Rights for other languages, theatre and graphic novel adaptation are still available. We are particularly interested in the sale of translation rights for Italian and Portuguese.
Contact Anna van Valkenburg at Guernica Editions. Quill of the Dove has been translated into French and is seeking a publisher.
You can now order your copy of Quill of the Dove in paperback and e-book formats directly from Guernica Editions or in paperback through your favourite Chapters, Indigo, Coles, Barnes and Noble stores and independent bookstores. You can also order Quill of the Dove from the more than 100 Canadian and international on-line vendors (click on the icons below for purchase details).
Quill of the Dove
Quill of the Dove is a blend of literary fiction and a political thriller. Framed by contemporary events in the Middle East, the novel covers two distinct time periods: 2007 mainly in Europe, the Palestinian Territories and Israel and Lebanon from 1975 to 1982.
The opening chapter takes place in Nicosia, the divided capital of Cyprus. French journalist Marc.Taragon is at the apex of his career, and Nicosia is his home base for covering the Middle East. A tenacious idealist, Taragon has spent the last thirty years attempting to bring to readers the truths about the wars and political intrigues of the region. He is unsparing in his criticism of extremists and has earned many enemies.
Taragon agrees to be interviewed by a young Canadian journalist, Marie Boivin, not knowing that Marie has a hidden agenda: to discover through Taragon the truth about her childhood.
Before Marie finds the answers she seeks, she is enmeshed in Taragon's plan to broker peace negotiations between Jonathan Bronstein, a left-wing Israeli politician, and Abdullah Akkawi, a dissident Palestinian leader. In the isolated Greek village of Arkassa on the island of Karpathos,Taragon succeeds in persuading Akkawi and Bronstein to agree to an ambitious peace plan. The action then moves quickly through Europe and the Middle East as Taragon and his associates try to stay one step ahead of deadly opponents of their initiative.
UK & IRELAND
"The historical context is thoroughly researched and it is clear that Shaw, a seasoned diplomat, is able to draw on his extensive experience and knowledge of the region and its peoples. The reader cannot help but be mesmerized as she / he sees the characters in the novel reach toward this peace that might have been, and engage in battle with the in-grown political, religious and tribal forces that are the root cause of all the Middle Eastern instability to this day."
NEW YORK JOURNAL OF BOOKS
“Quill of the Dove approaches the history of Lebanon through the eyes of international journalists called upon to take huge personal risk to report the complicated facts. This is a terrific way for Shaw to tell his tale. Richly drawn characters, enhanced by his profound knowledge of the Middle East, ensure that we are along for the whole ride with men and women trying to make a difference, while trying just to stay alive. With journalists dying in disturbing numbers across the world, this novel may be providing the timeliest perspective of any on the Middle East.”
DAVID WHELLAMS, AUTHOR OF THE VERDICT ON EACH MAN DEAD
“Shaw’s intimate knowledge of Israel and the Palestinian Territories grounds the drama in this heart-stopping political thriller.”
CLAIRE HOLDEN ROTHMAN, AUTHOR OF MY OCTOBER AND THE HEART SPECIALIST
“If John le Carré and Robert Fisk co-wrote a novel, Quill of the Dove would have been it. The inner lives of the novel's characters and the political landscape they are condemned to inhabit are complex; the dangers they face more palpable.”
SANG KIM, WINNER OF THE GLORIA VANDERBILT PRIZE FOR FICTION
"Quill of the Dove is a love story, a political manifesto and a voyage into the depths of war where life and death lie down together."
Soldier, Lily, Peace and Pearls
On her last day, Dr. Han Thieu, a Vietnamese doctor in Montreal, reminisces about her life, her husband, daughters, adopted son Quan, and friend Mathieu Hibou. In an act of love, she has decided to spare them her descent into unbearable pain and eventual death. Each of her remaining moments is like the rustling of papaya leaves—a sound only audible to those who choose to listen. Each memory brings sorrow and joy. For in life, love is but the counterface of suffering. Then with her last gasp, the story begins. The dark pain of post-war Vietnam and Cambodia blends into the youthful resilience of Malaysia and Thailand, the discovery of Canada and then new tragedies in Africa and the Middle East. Soldier, Lily, Peace and Pearls is a story teller’s tale. With every page you turn, let the ink lament a land lost, the paper sigh for past love and the letters paint desire for life renewed.
SUSAN DOHERTY HANNAFORD, AUTHOR OF THE GHOST GARDEN AND A SECRET MUSIC
"Shaw writes with dexterity and skill to create a compelling historical fiction drama set against the backdrop of war. This might have been Ian Thomas Shaw's second novel, but he has already established himself as one of the greatest writers in contemporary fiction."
MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW
"Powerful, moving novel. Soldier, Lily, Peace and Pearls transports you from lush rice fields and chaotic marketplaces of Southeast Asia to the tragedy of war in the Middle East and to the frigid temperatures of Quebec City as though the reader were on the same boat, same flight, witnessing the same madness of exploding bombs, treading on the same glacial sidewalks. Con Cú masterfully weaves the complicated, heartbreaking and endearing lives of his characters. This is an original, compelling story from one of Canada’s new voices."
SONIA SAIKALEY, AUTHOR OF THE LEBANESE DISHWASHER
"In Soldier, Lily, Peace and Pearls, Canadian author Con Cú (Ian Thomas Shaw) provides poignant insight into the human condition with his scholarly ear on world history and politics while telling a tale of several brave souls who were forced to face serious hardships in the struggle to escape their occupied country. Also depicted are glimpses of hardened villains and the raw depravity of the human race, and yet moments of passion and endearing tenderness mixed with authentic heroism. The story is brilliantly told. I read the last three quarters of the book all in one sitting and was caught up in the narrative and the characters."