By: Peter Edwards (CA), Kevin Loring (CA)

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From bestselling true-crime author Peter Edwards and Governor General's Award-winning playwright Kevin Loring, two sons of Lytton, BC, the town that burned to the ground in 2021, comes a meditation on hometown―when hometown is gone.

Before it made global headlines as the small town that burned down during a record-breaking heat wave in June 2021, while briefly the hottest place on Earth, Lytton, British Columbia, had a curious past. Named for the author of the infamous line, “It was a dark and stormy night,” Lytton was also where Peter Edwards, organized-crime journalist and author of seventeen non-fiction books, spent his childhood. Although only about 500 people lived in Lytton, Peter liked to joke that he was only the second-best writer to come from his tiny hometown. His grade-school classmate’s nephew Kevin Loring, Nlaka’pamux from Lytton First Nation, had grown up to be a Governor General's Award-winning playwright.

The Nlaka’pamux called Lytton “The Centre of the World,” a view Buddhists would share in the late twentieth century, as they set up a temple just outside town. In modern times, many outsiders would seek shelter there, often people who just didn’t fit anywhere else and were hoping for a little anonymity in the mountains. You’ll meet a whole cast of them in this book.

A gold rush in 1858 saw conflict with a wave of Californians come to a head with the Canyon War at the junction of the mighty Fraser and Thompson rivers, one that would have changed the map of what was soon to become Canada had the locals lost. The Nlaka’pamux lost over thirty lives in that conflict, as did the American gold seekers. A century later, Lytton hadn’t changed much. It was always a place where the troubles of the world seemed to land, even if very few people knew where it was.

This book is the story of Lytton, told from a shared perspective, of an Indigenous playwright and the journalist son of a settler doctor who quietly but sternly pushed back against the divisions that existed between populations (Dr. Edwards gladly took a lot of salmon as payment for his services back in the 1960s). Portrayed with all the warmth, humour and sincerity of small-town life, the colourful little town that burned to the ground could be every town’s warning if we don’t take seriously what this unique place has to teach us.

Details & specs

Publisher name:
Random House of Canada

Publication date:


Penguin Random House

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