Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet

Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet

“…quite simply, brilliant…a gem… Proulx has a sure hand that renders Luke’s experience painfully, viscerally real…above all, utterly engrossing."—The Guardian, UK


About the novel

The debut novel by Joanne Proulx. Published to critical acclaim by Penguin Canada, Soho Press in the U.S., Picador in the U.K., and Arena Publishers in the Netherlands. Picked by The Globe and Mail as one of the best debuts of 2007. Picked by Kirkus Reviews as one of the best US debuts of 2008. Picked by Borders for their prestigious New Voices program 2008. Winner of the 2008 YA Sunburst award for fantastic fiction. Short-listed for the 2008 Ottawa Book Award. Featured on the influential music and literature website, Largehearted Boy, which The Wall Street Journal calls a "coveted marketing spot for authors."

The novel is currently in development as a feature film by Sepia Films. Learn more about Anthem (the movie) here.


Praise For the Novel

“ An astounding first novel…Right from the powerful start, Proulx doesn’t let you down as you turn the pages and delve deeper into Luke’s journey…An absolute must-read.” Elle India - Hotlist

“Hot on the heels of Academy Award-winning comedy Juno comes another enjoyable tale of a smart-mouthed North American trying to make sense of the adult world…As in Diablo Cody’s literate script for Juno, Proulx succeeds in overturning the caricature of the morose, inarticulate teenager, to create a first person narrative voice that, while colloquial, is richly detailed and highly nuanced. The compassion and insight Proulx extends to her troubled young protagonist is also striking, while the black humour she draws from Luke’s daily struggle to carve out his own identity is extremely infectious.” –The List, UK

“Joanne Proulx’s growing-up-in-Michigan novel kicks ass…Proulx’s big accomplishment is voice; Luke glows with rage, fear, and horniness…Luke’s grudging epiphanies feel real. His halting dialogue, as limited as his interior thoughts are expansive, feels especially real. Finally, a growing-up book by someone who actually grew up.” –The Georgia Straight

“Ottawa writer Joanne Proulx's debut novel rocks, and her teenage protagonist, Luke Hunter, the reluctant prophet of the title, rules.

Forgive me for sounding juvenile, but I can't help myself. This is a great book, and Proulx's rendering of teenage angst is crafted with such precision and compassion that the reader rides the waves of fear, depression and elation that propel Luke's chaotic life, paying little attention to the skill that drives the narrative. But after the breathless, lyric close that leaves Luke on the brink of adulthood, it is impossible not to marvel at Proulx's mastery. The degree of her accomplishment -- it is rare that a novel is so finely realized -- resides largely in the first-person voice that claims this coming-of-age story...With undeniable candour and perfect pitch, Proulx renders Luke's abject tale, his articulation of a life in perpetual crisis and his search for meaning in his uncanny ability to predict death…Her ability to evoke the day-to-day concerns and interior life of a teenager is as uncanny as Luke's own prophesying...” –The National Post

“An assured first novel... Proulx's inspired opening salvo settles into a detailed, chatty character study. The anecdotal voice is all Luke's, a narrative rippling with author's insight slyly encoded in the hormone itch and cooler-than-thou posturing of a mixed-up teen...The beauty of this story is its complete and beguiling faithfulness to Luke's inner world. I felt I was back inside 17, plagued by self-doubt, social blunders and sexual angst, stumbling toward some kind - any kind - of identity…Proulx's message is expertly wrapped in her storytelling. Unaware, you watch Luke, recognize him, worry for him, until gradually you feel his ache, and his aching entry to adulthood, in your bones.” –The Globe and Mail

“Joanne Proulx's debut novel, Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet, caught my interest with the first page, with its seemingly simple setting of teenage boys hanging out and smoking dope, a scene so masterfully drawn it seemed more screenplay than novel. With her first novel Proulx shows herself to be a master empathetic storyteller with the tale of a seventeen year-old boy who foresees the deaths of others.” Largeheartedboy, US

"Wise-ass narrator Luke Hunter is given to premonitions about death—some true, some false—and eventually has what he might call a spiritual-like epiphany.

Proulx is pitch-perfect in her portrayal of the potty-mouthed, weed-smoking, angst-ridden adolescent narrator. A debut novel that’s sharp, edgy and slightly skewed—all qualities Luke consummately embodies." –Kirkus Reviews, US

“Small-town Michigan kid Luke Hunter discovers he can foresee deaths—starting with his buddy Stan’s. But Anthem is much more emo coming-of-age tale than teen Medium, and that’s a good thing. Proulx doesn’t rely on mystery to carry her plot—the deaths are mundane car crash and tractor-accident affairs. Instead, she weaves a compelling narrative about seeking faith and deftly channels the voice of a disaffected stoner. Though she lays on Luke’s teen verbal tics on distractingly thick at times, they never ring false—and neither does his search for redemption.” –Entertainment Weekly, US

"If great literature is your religion, read the gospel according to Luke Hunter. This debut novel is walk-on-water magical, a true revelation." –Neil Smith, author of BANG CRUNCH

“Joanne Proulx is a rare talent. Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet is perfectly drawn, with great voice, humour, complexity and an unforgettable setting.” –Lauren B. Davis, bestselling author of THE RADIANT CITY and THE STUBBORN SEASON

“Joanne Proulx’s darkly comic, thoughtful novel nails contemporary youth culture, and a lot more. Here’s a coming-of-age story that’s constantly surprising, at once both wonderfully unfamiliar and true-feeling.” –Michael Helm, Giller Prize finalist for THE PROJECTIONIST

“Wow. A coming-of-age novel that doesn't make me want to go after the author with a two-by-four with a nail at the end of it.  Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet is the rarest of things: a well-written, funny, and entertaining first novel." –Ray Robertson, author of MOODY FOOD and GENTLY DOWN THE STREAM

“Proulx has a way of painting the perfect picture of Luke while capturing the complexities of teenage and high school life. …[her] writing is smooth, flowing effortlessly from chapter to chapter giving just enough info to keep you wanting more. If anything negative is to be typed is that Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet ends too quickly. Maybe it’s the pervasiveness of Reality TV coaxing us to look inside someone’s life because peaking inside the life of Luke is deathly addictive stuff.” –

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