Founding Fathers is the debut novel from Nicholas Gagnier, following the release of his novella Leonard the Liar in July 2018. As debuts go, in fact as novels go, it is stunning. Parts One, Two and Three flawlessly weave the stories of multiple people together to culminate in a narrative coming full circle. Except some characters are beginning new lives with hope whilst others have been lost.
Any writer of literary fiction has something to say and often they will escape to say it. The Lord of the Rings, The Handmaid’s Tale, 1984 and The Lord of the Flies, to name just a few, all had and have something to say about society’s status quo, stasis and power. They chose fantasy, the future or an island to start this conversation. What is admirable and courageous about Gagnier is his refusal to escape. Founding Fathers, inspired by the tragic death of a young woman in Charlottesville in 2017, is a hard-hitting, raw and honest exploration of white supremacy, cultural and racial conflict and the human beings fighting on every frontier – justly or not – set in America not in a world of the author’s imagination.
Not once does Gagnier pretend to be anything other than a Canadian, white man but I believe he does justice, through empathy, understanding and research, to all of his characters. Whether it be Peter York, a white, American man or Nadia, a teenager and refugee from war-torn Syria.
Gagnier tells a story which unveils the truths and lies which commingle to create the fabric of current Western societies. He does this expertly; leaving you questioning the world around you.
How can I make this earth a better place to co-exist?
How have I previously been at fault?
No matter what your answers are, you will have learnt something by the end.
Founding Fathers is free on Kindle today (Saturday 27th October)