The Orange Fish

Emerging from these twelve beautifully articulated stories are portraits of men and women whose affairs and recoveries in life take us into worlds that are both new and yet unnervingly familiar. A smile of recognition and a shock of surprise await readers of these finely crafted stories. From the magical orange fish itself -- enigmatic and without age -- to holiday reunions; from the passions and pains of lovers and friends to the moving uncertainty of a Parisian vacation, this exquisite collection is bound to delight and enchant Carol Shields' fans everywhere.

The Orange Fish is also available in Collected Stories.

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Reading [these stories] gives you a sense of art spilling over into life....Even the briefest and apparently arbitrary details of life seem incandescent."
- Toronto Star


Winner Marian Engel Award 1990


The Orange Fish
from Publishers Weekly

Although a variety of well-realized voices animate the 12 stories in Shields's fine collection, they are all plainspoken and direct--the hallmarks of her sturdy prose. All stories except three are set in her native Canada; most have as protagonists people locked into themselves, suffused with nostalgia, regret, incommunicable longing--and sometimes fulfilled by flashes of communication and tentative hope. In several stories, ordinary people undergo metamorphosis: in the title piece, a couple who acquires a lithograph of an orange fish is suddenly accepted into a charmed circle; in "Chemistry" another group is bonded in a magical way by a shared interest; "Hazel" is a widow who acquires job skills and confidence and expects to take control of her destiny--only to discover that "her life is an accident and she has blundered into the heart of it." The most distinctive story is "Collision," which hinges upon the notion that the earth's atmosphere is composed of the "biographical debris" of everyone who has ever lived. Shields's narrative method is suggested in one tale as "the way a human life drains toward one revealing scene." The author of the accomplished novel Swann should widen her audience with these perceptive tales.
(Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Infused with a sly humour, these poignant stories revel in the ordinary, with a few side-strips to the sublime......both moving and wry."
- Washington Post

Snatching profundity from the jaws of the banal is Shields' speciality......"
- MacLean's

Shields is a sympathetic storyteller who brings her quirky, touching characters to exhuberant life."
- New York Newsday


Peter Gzowski talks with Carol Shields on CBC Radio about The Orange Fish

PG The characters in The Orange Fish, a new collection of short fiction by the Winnipeg author Carol Shields are a disparate group but they share a certain trait. They tend to be ordinary people, powerless, maybe a little afraid. One woman hopes to reduce life's complexities by posting on her fridge an encouraging slogan. Another woman, a mother, would rather not know about her son's amputated leg. They're survivors whose survival tactics are very much at the heart of Carol Shields' fiction and I'm happy to welcome Carol Shields now. Good morning.
CS: Good morning.
PG: Was that a fair summary of what you're getting at in this book?
CS: Yes. I am very happy with your summary I have to say.
PG: I didn't do it all myself so I'm even happier with it.
CS: Yes, survival. Yes.
PG: Can we talk about Orange for a moment and then we'll talk about survival?
CS: Yes.
PG: I didn't start counting - I had to read this in page strips which is a nuisance when you want to read in bed so I didn't do as good a job as I may have. But there are so many orange references in every story I wondered is there an orange in every story?
CS: I have no idea. You mean you find this right through the whole book?
PG: Well there's an orange fish, an orange sun, an orange plastic bag, an orange subway pass, orange hair, orange….
CS: Good Lord. Good Lord. This is operating unconsciously and I didn't even know it. I have an orange fixation. The title story is of course The Orange Fish certainly is deliberate but I must have these colours floating through my brain. No, no. The Orange Fish came about because I actually own - I have to confess - I own a picture called The Orange Fish which I've had for years and I love it.

These are wonderful stories."
- Books in Canada

Shields is able to give some of the most complex accounts of human nature I've read in a short story."
- San Francisco Chronicle

A wise, expansive voice… the author turns normal everyday memories and events into poetic prophecy."
- Newsday

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