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Dr. Donna Decker Wins IPPY

June 1, 2016

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Dancing in Red Shoes will Kill You (Inanna Publications and Education, 2015) by Dr. Donna Decker has won both a 2016 Silver IPPY (Independent Publishers Book Awards for best titles from around the world by independent and university presses as well as self-published titles) medal for Canada-East Best Regional Fiction. Dr. Decker's book is also a finalist in the 2016 International Book Awards (for titles published by mainstream and independent presses) in the category of Women's Issues.

Through the braided narratives of three spirited characters, this novel bears witness to the infamous crime that metastasized uber-civilized Montreal, the “Montreal Massacre,” when on December 6, 1989, fourteen female engineering students were murdered in their classrooms.

The novel focuses on the lives of Deirdre, a first-year female engineering student at Aquitaine, who takes a Women’s Studies course as an elective and Marin, a student at Cantech who ponders what it means to be a female engineering student in such a chilly gendered climate. Everyone wants Marin at her party. Bohemian and beautiful, she is as passionate about constructing sets for theater and opera as she is about Trey, the one man she can finally trust. Deirdre is earnest and perceptive, but too naïve to know that frat boys can be dangerous, and she is drugged and raped at a party in an infamous men’s residence. Jenean, a francophone female journalist working in both languages, is feisty and urbane, a feminist who longs for peace between the sexes even as she ponders splitting from her live-in partner. She finds herself on the killer’s list of 19 women he would have liked to kill.

Set in that tragic historic moment, on two college campuses fraught with gendered antagonisms, this novel tells the story of the victims, following the imagined lives of these women as they happen headlong into the December 6 tragedy — a story disarmingly accurate that explores the profundity of deepest love and unimaginable loss. It follows them through a semester of college, from the crisp autumnal beginnings to that tragic winter. It does not end there. It then takes up with the families and survivors, examining the enduring effects of the massacre’s 24 minutes of inarticulate inhumanity.

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