The HSW Literary Agency



Keith Oatley

For Keith Oatley, creative expression is as much an object of study as it is an everyday practice. University of Toronto professor emeritus of cognitive psychology, Oatley has long been fascinated by the way human beings communicate ideas and feelings. His Commonwealth Writers’ Prize-winning first novel, The Case of Emily V. (Secker & Warburg), follows Sherlock Holmes and Sigmund Freud’s joint investigation of suspected murderess Emily Vincent. In the voices of Dr. Watson, Freud, and Emily herself, Oatley explores Emily’s motivation for pushing her former guardian to his death. A second novel, A Natural History (Penguin Canada), draws upon George Eliot’s Middlemarch to study a mid-nineteenth-century scientist’s struggles at home, with his pianist wife, and at work.

Oatley currently teaches a course on creativity for Humber College’s publishing program. He divides his time between Toronto, Canada, and London, England.

Work on Offer:

Therefore Choose
Goose Lane Editions 2010

Set in the years before and after World War II, Therefore Choose is a love story in which Anna, editor of a literary magazine in Berlin, asks George, an English medical student who visits there in 1936, to stay and live with her. Should he interrupt his plans because of his love for her? Should he live in a country he is coming to distrust?

This psychological novel enters deeply into the minds of its protagonists, and explores how we choose our lives even though we cannot foresee the outcomes of our decisions. It's about how we take responsibility for our actions. It's about what happens when people's feelings about the past begin to seem inadequate, and when guilt begins to seem appropriate.

Manuscript available
Rights: North American, excluding Canadian English

Praise for Therefore Choose:

“…unquestionably a literary triumph….”

-- The Walrus

“A coming-of-age story quietly and compassionately told. Almost between the lines, the force of history bears down on these characters, as they learn what is possible and impossible in a broken world.”

-- Anne Michaels, author of Fugitive Pieces and The Winter Vault

“A thoroughly thought-provoking read. Oatley is deft with dialogue—big ideas are channeled seamlessly through the minds of his characters. George, Werner, and Anna’s every choice—whether to act, react, or withhold action—is imbued with power.”

-- Steven Galloway, author of The Cellist of Sarajevo