Banana Kiss by Bonnie Rozanski  

A ferociously sharp comic romance about a love affair between a schizophrenic and a manic depressive who meet in a psychiatric institution.

Robin Farber lives in a psychiatric institution. In her mind, she creates the world by looking at it: a quantum theory-world where matter pops in and out of existence as she observes it, a world where she is God. And, because the reader of Banana Kiss must take a long look through her schizophrenic eyes, this is our world, too, a world where the disembodied voices Robin hears are more real than the people who stand in front of her.

Robin’s world is populated by a rich variety of characters, both real and imaginary. Her father, a sailor who died when she was a baby, shows up in her head whenever he’s on leave. Derek, her charming, lovelorn friend, goes from mania to depression and back several times a day. There’s her insufferable sister Melissa, who stole her boyfriend, Max. And, of course, there’s Dr Mankiewicz, or ‘Whitecoat’, the long-suffering therapist who, Robin tells us, ‘thinks there are some things that are real, and some things that are not, and that he knows better than anyone else.’ Finally, there is Robin herself, whose confused, psychotic, funny, compassionate voice is one you are not likely to forget.

Review quote

‘Ultimately, Robin is a heartbreaker, because she is so vibrantly written that her isolation and compassionate nature make her psychosis feel real, and elicit sympathy at a much deeper level than would have occurred in a novel that didn’t originate from within her fractured mind. Because there are few major events in the book, with action dwelling instead on Robin’s long days and shadowy nights, Rozanski wisely concentrates instead on making Robin as tangible as possible, and because of this she lingers long after the last page.’

—Elizabeth Millard, ForeWord

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Banana Kiss is a sympathetic but never mawkish portrayal of a woman who suffers the horrors of a damaged mind and yet always retains her dignity. We can deeply empathize with Robin’s world. Her unique version of reality is portrayed with so much truth that we begin to understand how it’s possible that such a world can make sense in Robin’s mind. Even though we shudder to think how agonized that mind is, we can delight in her lively personality, eccentric sense of humour, and quirky take on life. ... Robin’s story reminds us how delicately we tread the realm of sanity, and her experiences constantly challenge definitions of sanity. As a result, we emerge from her story with a greater understanding of the unremitting suffering and surprising joys that a life like Robin’s can bring.’

—Laurel Smith, Quill and Quire

Review quote

‘In Banana Kiss, Bonnie Rozanski coaxes the comedy out of a love affair between a schizophrenic and a manic depressive.’

—Stephen Smith, Globe and Mail

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‘In her debut novel, Banana Kiss, New Jerseyite Bonnie Rozanski explores the world through -- and behind -- the eyes of Robin Farber, a young woman hospitalized with schizophrenia. It’s a harrowing experience, but emotionally immediate, as lucidity blends with delusion, and reality shares space with fantasies and horrors drawn from Robin’s dreams and memories. Rozanski, a University of Guelph graduate, sharply renders both Robin’s internal world, at a tangent from reality, and her physical world, surrounded by family (including her insidious sister, who is about to marry Robin’s former lover, Max), fellow travellers (including the dynamic Derek, whose manic depression is accelerated to a crippling degree) and medical professionals, who treat Robin with a kindness and gentleness at odds with her perception of them.

‘Rozanski writes with a keen-edged, cool precision. The tone is distinct from Robin’s hysteria, but allows a unique perspective into her mind as she struggles through daily life and tries first to avoid, then to reconcile herself with, the events and traumas that led to her collapse and hospitalization.

‘The world of Robin’s delusions is presented as oddly inviting, a comforting realm of supportive and encouraging voices, including that of her father, a sailor who died when Robin was an infant.

Banana Kiss is not without its flaws, chiefly an ending that seems to come too quickly and too easily for all of the carefully laid groundwork, but it is powerful, compelling storytelling and a unique reading experience.’

—Robert Wiersema, Globe and Mail


Bonnie Rozanski currently resides in New Jersey, but has lived all over the United States and Canada. She has degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, Adelphi University (Garden City, Long Island) and the University of Guelph, and worked in both academia and business before deciding to return to her first love, writing. She has written several books in which scientific issues inform the plots, as well as two prize-winning plays.

The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.

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FICTION / Literary


ISBN-13: 9780889842762

Publication Date: 2005-09-01

Dimensions: 8.75 in x 5.56 in

Pages: 240

Price: $22.95