Available October 2018!

The Ambassador of What

A collection of linked stories about fathers, sons, and the complicated reality that is family.

Slogging through the miles of a city marathon, an eleven-year- old boy encounters small miracles; about to marry one of her patients in a home for the elderly, a nurse asks her estranged son to come to the wedding, and give her away; home from university, a young man has Christmas dinner with his hard-up dad in a bistro behind a rural gas bar. Men and boys and maleness, money and its lack, the long haunt of childhood, marriage and divorce—these lie at the heart of The Ambassador of What. Driven by an ear for how we talk, how we feel, how we fail, and how we love, these are tough and tender stories that take hold, and linger.


"What remarkable stories: tender and fierce, acutely observed and achingly felt, guided by an intelligence that will neither judge nor look away. Prose can't get more transparent by craft or insights more clarified by experience -- to powerful, lasting effect."

Charles Foran, Governor General’s Award-winning author of Carolan’s Farewell and The Last House of Ulster

"Taut as a flexed muscle, deft as a sideways glance, Adrian Kelly’s stories pull us into the tender, brittle world of fathers and sons. An illuminating addition to Canada’s new rural noir."

Merilyn Simonds, author of The Convict Lover and Gutenberg’s Fingerprint

"Adrian’s characters are torn between the almost sense-less intellectual life promised them by literature and their education, and their sweaty, violent, and violated origins in the world of hopeless work and father-and-son struggles to keep failure at bay."

Richard Harrison, winner, Governor General’s Award for Poetry

About the Author

Adrian Michael Kelly lives in Kingston, Ontario.  He is the author of Down Sterling Road, a novel, and of the forthcoming collection of short stories, The Ambassador of What.  His essays and journalism have appeared in The Globe & Mail, the Calgary Herald, CNQ: Canadian Notes and Queries, and other periodicals.  He holds a PhD in English (with a Creative Writing focus) and has taught writing and literature to students and professionals worldwide.

Other Books by the Author

Down Sterling Road

Eleven-year-old Jacob McKnight doesn’t like running. He doesn’t like the hills, the cold wind, the slushy electrolyte drinks, the interval training. He doesn’t like the way his dad is always pushing him: harder, faster, what’s wrong with you, boy? But mostly he doesn’t like the way it gives him time to think about the accident that shattered his brother’s body and his parents’ marriage.

Jacob would rather be drawing than running. He likes the Anatomy Colouring Book his dad gave him, and he likes how it helps him to better draw superheroes, with their unbreakable bodies. He likes, too, how drawing makes him forget about how much he misses his mum, about how hard his dad works to pay for their tiny apartment and secondhand clothes, about the pitying whispers that follow them around Glanisberg.

Down Sterling Road parses the anatomy of childhood with wisdom, wit and wonder; it’s one of the most charismatic books you’ll read all year.


Poignant and triumphant!

“I absolutely LOVED this book! Absolutely brilliant voicing that had me speaking afterwards with Jacob’s dad’s Scottish accent and slang. Wonderful, nuanced characters that I loved, feared, resented and cheered. My goodness, what a poignant and triumphant story this was! I haven’t enjoyed a novel nearly this much since I read Roddy Doyle’s Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha years ago- and I loved Down Sterling Road more.”

John Carbone