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Fiction | Humour
Pub Date: September 6, 2024
5.5 X 8.5 in |  384 pgs
Trade Paperback: 9781988989822
e-pub: 9781988989839 


“Rod Carley has written a captivating and bewitching novel set in England, more than 400 years ago, yet it runs rife with contemporary relevance and resonance. Sophisticated, funny, insightful, timeless yet timely, my list of plaudits grew as the pages turned. Beautifully written, with characters that lingered in my head and heart long after the curtain fell, this is a story to be savoured. Bravo!”

Terry Fallis, two-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour.

"I have been referring to Rod Carley as a "future Leacock Award winner" for some time, and his latest side-splitting (Shakespearean!) book confirms my opinion that he is one of our country's finest and funniest writers. His newest hilarious assault on the intercostals (warning: your ribs will hurt from laughing) is, to quote the Great Bard of Avon himself, or possibly, you know, Edward de Vere; "A hit, a very palpable hit," and - in addition to being funny, really, really funny  - is a well-written and well told tale that will hold you from (ahem) the first act all the way to the curtain. That's a "standing O" for the novel, "Ruff," and "Bravo" for the author!"

— Ian Ferguson, winner of the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour and co-author (with Will Ferguson) of the 'Miranda Abbott" mysteries.

A charming, page-turning, dramatic, compelling invention, weaving true story with vivid fiction and delightful anachronisms, crones, crows, witches, magic, Scottish kings, secret trapdoors, hidden Catholics and terrible puns which arrive like a surprise visit from an old best friend, part of the touching bonhomie between members of Shakespeare's company.

With surprising freshness—who knew we could discover so much more about the lively, deeply human, uncertain, dangerous and joyous milieu of the historical Bard?—Ruff has us up to our necks in the emotional, political, practical, daring, high stakes world of Shakespeare and reminds us that being the greatest playwright of the Jacobean—or any other—age is not all fun and James.

Gary Barwin, author of Yiddish for Pirates 

Kooky, clever and wildly entertaining, Ruff explores art, politics, gender and mid-life woes in the golden age of quills and queens—with a modern edge. Carley is a master of the pun, bard none. A rich and playful novel worthy of a standing ovation.  

— Ali Bryan, Author of The Crow Valley Karaoke Championships




Rod Carley is back with another theatrical odyssey packed with an unforgettable cast of Elizabethan eccentrics. It’s a madcap world more modern than tomorrow where gender is what a person makes of it (no matter the story beneath their petticoats or tights). Will Shakespeare is having a very bad year. Suffering from a mid-life crisis, a plague outbreak, and the death of the ancient Queen, Will’s mettle is put to the test when the new King puts his witch-burning hobby aside to announce a national play competition that will determine which theatre company will secure his favour and remain in business. As he struggles to write a Scottish supernatural thriller, Will faces one ruff and puffy obstacle after another including a young rival punk poet and his activist-wife fighting for equality and a woman’s right to tread the boards. Will and his band of misfits must ensure not only their own survival, but that of England as well. The stage is set for an outrageous and compelling tale of ghosts, ghostwriting, writer’s block, and the chopping block. Ruffly based on a true story.


About the Author

Rod is the award-winning author of three previous works of literary fiction: GRIN REAPING (long listed for the 2023 Leacock Medal for Humour, 2022 Bronze Winner for Humour from Foreword Review INDIES, a Finalist for the 2023 Next Generation Indie Book Award for Humor/Comedy, and long listed for the ReLit Group Awards for Best Short Fiction of 2023); KINMOUNT (long listed for the 2021 Leacock Medal for Humour and Winner of the 2021 Silver Medal for Best Regional Fiction from the Independent Publishers Book Awards); A Matter of Will (Finalist for the 2018 Northern Lit Award for Fiction). His short stories and creative non-fiction have appeared in a variety of Canadian literary magazines including Broadview (winner of the 2022 Award of Excellence for Best Seasonal Article from the Associated Church Press), Cloud Lake Literary, Blank Spaces, Exile, HighGrader, and the anthology 150 Years Up North and More. He was a finalist for the 2021 Carter V. Cooper Short Fiction Prize. Rod was the 2009 winner of TVO’s Big Ideas/Best Lecturer Competition for his lecture entitled “Adapting Shakespeare within a Modern Canadian Context. He is a proud alumnus of the Humber School for Writers and is represented by Carolyn Forde, Senior Literary Agent with The Transatlantic Agency.


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