There Is No Blue

Available from Coach House and Amazon

Martha Baillie’s richly layered response to her mother’s passing, her father’s life, and her sister’s suicide is an exploration of how the body, the rooms we inhabit, and our languages offer the psyche a home, if only for a time.

Three essays, three deaths. The first is the death of the author’s mother, a protracted disappearance, leaving space for thoughtfulness and ritual: the washing of her body, the making of a death mask. The second considers Baillie’s father, his remoteness, his charm, a lacuna at the center of the family even before his death, earlier than her mother’s. And then, third, shockingly, the author’s sister, a visual artist and writer living with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, who writes three reasons to die on her bedroom wall and then takes her life, just before the book the sisters co-authored is due to come out.

In this close observation of a family, few absolutes hold, as experiences of reality diverge. A memoir of cascading grief and survival from the author of The Incident Report.


“Martha Baillie’s novels are thrillingly, joyously singular, that rare combination of sui generis and just plain generous. That There Is No Blue, her memoir, is all of those things too, is no surprise; still, she has gone somewhere extraordinary. This triptych of essays, which exquisitely unfolds the “disobedient tale” of the lives and deaths of her mother, her father, and her sister, is a meditation on the mystery and wonder of grief and art making and home and memory itself. It made me think of kintsugi, the Japanese art of repair, in which the mending is not hidden but featured and beautifully illuminated. Baillie’s variety of attention, carved out of language, is tenderness, is love.” – Maud Casey, author of City of Incurable Women

“This is a stunning memoir, intense and meticulous in its observations of family life. Baillie subtly interrogates and conveys the devastating mistranslations that take place in childhood, the antagonism and porousness of siblings, and the tragedy of schizophrenia as it unfolds. I couldn’t put it down.” – Dr. Lisa Appignanesi, author of Mad, Bad and Sad and Everyday Madness

“”Exquisite.” – Souvankham Thammavongsa, author of How to Pronounce Knife

“I am grateful for this profound meditation on family and loss.” – Charlie Kaufman, filmmaker

Sister Language

Available from Amazon

Sister Language is a collaboration, composed mainly of letters and other writings, between two sisters, one of whom, Christina, is schizophrenic. In the careful building of a bridge between sisters, a prose nonpareil is achieved, and a linguistic “bridge” created between readers and the authors, one of whom’s deep isolation is in this way diminished.

Sister Language – Nominated for Trillium Book Award!

Read more about the Trillium Award in the Toronto Star

“A playful duet, a radiant howl, a swirling portrait of schizophrenia and sisterhood–this beautiful, wildly-groomed book magnifies two brilliant minds in motion. It is a story of what happens when ‘everyday’ language mutinies and shatters, leaving a fragile chimera of coherence. But mostly it’s a tale of unshakable, vulnerable, writerly love that brought me to tears.”
– Kyo Maclear, author of Birds Art Life

Listen to a musical interpretation of Sister Language, composed by Noora Nakhaei and performed by Edana Higham & Zac Pulak – SHHH!! Ensemble, as part of a concert in October 2020 – find the Sister Language piece “Echoes of the Past” at abut 12:20.

More reviews >>

If Clara

 Coach House (English)

Decitre (Français)

A mysterious manuscript falls into a bed-ridden writer’s lap in this novel of broken bones, Syrian folktales, and plummets of all varieties.

In If Clara, nobody stands on firm ground. Daisy, an author confined to her home, her leg in a cast from hip to ankle, receives a parcel containing the manuscript of a novel about a Syrian refugee, and is asked to pose as its writer. Julia, a curator of installation art, has no idea that her sister, Clara, has written a novel. However, she does know that Clara suffers from a debilitating mental illness that renders her wildly unpredictable. And Maurice’s life is changed by a pair of binoculars welded to the wall of Julia’s gallery. These stories collide in a most unexpected way.

An interview with Martha Baillie (2017. Open Book) >>

Reviews >>

The Search For Heinrich Schlögel

Canadian Edition Canada – Indigo or Amazon

USA Edition USA  – B&N eBook or Amazon

Martha Baillie’s hypnotic novel follows Heinrich Schlögel from Germany to Canada, where he sets out on a two-week hike into the isolated interior of Baffin Island. His journey quickly becomes surreal; he experiences strange encounters and inexplicable visions as shards of Arctic history emerge from the shifting landscape. When he returns from his hike, he discovers that, though he has not aged, thirty years have passed. Narrated by an unnamed archivist who is attempting to piece together the truth of Heinrich’s life, The Search for Heinrich Schlögel dances between reality and dream, asking us to consider not only our role in imagining the future into existence but also the consequences of our past choices.

Reviews are in!

Q&A with Martha

Blog From The Bookstore w/ Martha

Visit The Schlögel Archive – a novel redistributed

Published by Pedlar Press in Canada —  Tin House in the USA

The Incident Report

The Incident Report takes the pulse of our fragmented urban existence with detachment and wit. Set in the heart of Toronto, at the Allan Gardens Public Library, home to the mad and the marginalized, the novel is both a mystery and an erotic love story, told in 144 brief lyric reports that ricochet off each other to form an utterly unusual and compelling novel.

Buy eBook or paperback at Amazon or Indigo

Video readings …

CBC Radio

      CBC radio interview

The Shape I Gave You

How do we choose to whom we tell our stories? Ulrike Hugenot is a young pianist who arrives home at her Berlin apartment to discover a fat envelope stuffed into her mailbox. She is astonished when she realizes that it is from Beatrice Mann, a Canadian sculptor – a friend of her father and, Ulrike suspects, his lover. What could this woman possibly have to say to her? And why now, seven years after her father, Gustave’s death?

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Madame Balashovskaya’s Apartment

Eugenie Balashovskaya’s 90 year life may be drawing to a close, but her Paris apartment is brimming with activity. Anna, a young Canadian student renting a room from Eugenie, has brought with her disturbing shadows from the past. Years ago, when Eugenie’s daughter, Rose, drowned in the Seine, only Anna’s mother was present.

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My Sister Esther

A compelling portrayal of the troubled relationships which bind together the Maclaren family, and of the secret events in the lives of two sisters.

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Other writing …