The Bukowski Agency - My Name Is a Knife

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Canada: Knopf, July 2018
World English Audio: Audible


Alix Hawley
(Photo: Mike Hawley)

Alix Hawley’s first novel, All True Not a Lie in It, a revisionist take on the life of Daniel Boone in his own words, was released in the USA by Ecco in 2016. Knopf released it in Canada in 2015; it won the First Novel Award and was longlisted for the Giller Prize. Alix earned her doctorate in English Literature at Oxford and a Master’s degree in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. She published a story collection, The Old Familiar (Thistledown Press), in 2008. She resides in Kelowna, British Columbia, with her husband and two children.

My Name Is a Knife

a novel by Alix Hawley


My Name Is a Knife coverAlix Hawley returns to the early American frontier in her latest novel, My Name is a Knife, continuing to weave the human story behind the wild legends of Daniel Boone and his family.

In the same shockingly powerful voice and style that won All True Not a Lie In It the First Novel Award and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, Hawley adds further depth by tackling Boone’s turmoil at the time when the two sides of his life were in most direct conflict. Boone found a new family and wife to love while in Shawnee captivity, but is compelled to leave them when he learns of the Shawnees’ plans to attack the fort he founded, where his white family remains.

His wife’s equally powerful story rises to the surface also. How does a tough, damaged frontier woman deal with her anger over the devastation her husband's grand plans for a Kentucky settlement have caused her? In a voice as uncannily real as Daniel’s, Rebecca takes us deeper into the human heart of history. 

Alix Hawley deftly handles all sides as the conflicts rush to a head. My Name is a Knife slices right through myth to create a portrait more lifelike than any historical account.



“Hawley breathes new life into the biographical facts of Boone’s life…. Hawley presents Boone as the tragic hero of the European settlement of North America: a man most free and happy in the forest and with the Shawnee people of the Ohio Valley, but who irrevocably altered both. Her Boone is also a sort of American Odysseus: a cunning traveller who fought when he had to but used words when he could, and left his long-suffering wife to carry on in his absence.” — WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

“Masterful…vivid and disturbing.” — THE TORONTO STAR

“Spectacular. Alix Hawley is a marvel. I’d read anything she writes.”— ALISON PICK, author of Strangers with the Same Dream

“All the beauty and violence of Hilary Mantel, Michael Ondaatje or Cormac McCarthy—yet these are books like no others. Hawley’s tale of Daniel Boone is an elegy, a horror story, a breathtaking reminder of what settlers did here (and still do).”— SEAN MICHAELS, author of US Conductors

“History raw and bleeding, My Name Is a Knife is a superb sequel to the inside story of Daniel Boone begun in Alix Hawley’s first novel, as exciting as it is thoughtful. We’ll never see this American icon—and now, his wife, Rebecca—the same way again. Move over, James Fenimore Cooper: a woman has come to take your place.”—  NICK MOUNT, author of Arrival: The Story of CanLit

“Hawley’s brilliant second novel continues the story of American frontiersman Daniel Boone. This is a historical novel, but more than that it’s an existential novel, sensuous, philosophical, with carefully drawn characters and deep dives into the human consciousness. If you crossed the best of Michael Ondaatje with the best of Alice Munro, Alix Hawley is what you’d get.”— PHILIPP MEYER, author of THE SON


All True Not A Lie In It - Canadian paperback cover

“Questions of honor, ownership and conquest are posed with a sensitivity that departs strikingly from the rugged posturing often associated with Boone’s story. Throughout, Hawley is careful not to allow contemporary mores to color this often surprisingly tranquil and original portrait of an individual who loomed large in our nation’s rapacious westward expansion.”— The NEW YORK TIMES

“Alix Hawley has written a boldly original, mysterious, and provocative novel-the demythologizing of an American icon (Daniel Boone) and his reinvention as a figure of poetic luminosity. She is Cormac McCarthy's young heiress, with a light and forgiving heart.”— JOYCE CAROL OATES

“This rich and wonderful novel imagines us so deeply into the mind of Daniel Boone that the stuff of his legend—the explorations, the conquests, the super-athlete woodsman feats—seem almost incidental to the soul-twisting trajectory of his intimate life. Family, love and loss, the longing for home, the intensity with which Boone lived these dramas help to explain the superhuman drive of this man, and Alix Hawley brilliantly renders every aspect of his story.”— BEN FOUNTAIN, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

“A stunning debut that will stand the test of time. Hawley's book is a deep dive into the character and mindset of one of the most legendary figures of the American Frontier. Though it is accurate down to the smallest detail-every page reads as shimmeringly, intensely real-the novel wears its historical mantle lightly. It is stylistically and psychologically brilliant, truly a great novel.”— PHILIPP MEYER, author of The Son

“Hawley's marvelous book shines light on a figure that has become more legend than man, sharing an intimate and raw portrayal of Boone that rings true.”— PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“The world [Boone] describes, full of squalor and natural beauty and blood, is richly detailed, and the dialogue sharp and well-trimmed.”— KIRKUS REVIEWS

“A book of great sympathy and sadness. Hawley’s intimate version of Daniel Boone is a wonderful character, intelligent and self-aware, even if he can’t stop himself from being himself.”— THE WALRUS

“Hawley masterfully creates both a dreamlike world and a fearful fantasy. We get to know her Boone intimately, the narrowness of his childhood existence, the idealization of his dead brother, Israel, whom Boone strives his entire life to emulate, and the trauma caused by the loss of his son. The unremitting cruelty and turbulence of the 18th-century frontier environment is palpable. The country is vast, but the deep, almost suffocating forest, where death can lurk behind any tree, keeps one from seeing clearly, and friend or foe can appear or disappear in an instant. … The book's magic, however, is in Hawley's treatment of Boone's inner life. All True Not a Lie In It, published, appropriately, under Knopf Canada's New Face of Fiction imprint, may come closer to disclosing the "real" Daniel Boone than those who originally manufactured and perpetuated his myth. ”— QUILL & QUIRE, starred review

“I am so glad this novel will be published in the U.S. later in 2016, as it gets inside the mind of one of America's most enduring pioneer folk heroes and strips him bare. Early pioneer Daniel Boone is mostly known for his coonskin cap, but in Hawley's version he is a peculiar man with a habit of leaving his family to go hunting and taking years to return. Hawley writes about Boone's relationship with Native Americans and with the harsh landscape he survives in a manner both dreamlike and enthralling.”— TRACY CHEVALIER, author of Girl With a Pearl Earring

“Hawley’s ability to convey the menace of paradise is overwhelming, as well as her ability to make the reader share in the sorrows of her hero.”— NATIONAL POST

“Alix Hawley's resurrection of the great woodsman, Daniel Boone, is astonishingly, uncannily vivid. Lightly stitched to the sparse historical record, this is not a picture of the frontier itself so much as the restless spirits of exploration, love, memory, and greed that drove Boone – “the white Indian” – west through the wilderness. His voice cracks like a musket shot across these pages – brave, confused, and yearning – and Hawley's close, dream-like perspective lends a hallucinatory aspect to her prose, as if we are looking out Boone's eyes at those lost landscapes and faces. An amazing debut.”— REGINA MARLER, literary critic and book reviewer

“An extraordinary feat of backwoods ventriloquism, carried off with great flair and conviction, across the boundaries of custom, time and gender. Alix Hawley invests afresh in the voice of Daniel Boone and his tough familiars, bringing shock and sensuality, but also surprising tenderness, to the famously rugged frontier myth.”— RICHARD HOLMES, author of The Age of Wonder

All True Not a Lie in It moves with surety and grace through legends and landscapes trod by more than a few major artists. Watching Alix Hawley negotiate this challenging terrain, via Daniel Boone, of all American stories, is a serious literary thrill. An audacious debut.”— CHARLES FORAN, author of Planet Lolita and Mordecai: The Life and Times

“Alix Hawley's debut novel is audacious and bold, like an early Ondaatje, with writing that is luscious, lyrical, and bloodthirsty. Like Hawley's narrator, Daniel Boone, All True Not a Lie In It, constantly seeks out new ground, wrapping the reader in a landscape of language and dream.”— ALEXI ZENTNER, author of Touch and The Lobster Kings

“I fell in love with Alix Hawley’s Daniel Boone, a man drawn to the beating heart of the wild landscape that stretches beyond his known world, and who risks recklessly to preserve his freedom.”— FRANCES GREENSLADE, author of Shelter


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