Book cover image for In the Belly of the Sphinx: A Novel by Grant Buday. The background is a deep, dark green and has the detail of a hand-drawn blue-green snake with a yellow eye that is swirled around two yellow line-drawings of bottles that have the same yellow eye as the snake in the mouth of each bottle; the title is across the top of the cover, is in a white, bold serif font reading, “In the Belly of the Sphinx,” and the word “Sphinx” is in all-caps. In the bottom left corner, placed within one of the bottle drawings, in sans serif, lowercase, light green font is the text, “a novel”, followed by the author name in all-caps, white, sans serif font reading, “Grant Buday.” Book cover is by Jazmin Welch of Fleck Creative Studio.

In the Belly of the Sphinx

A Novel

By (author): Grant Buday
ISBN 9781990071157
Softcover | Publication Date: October 10, 2023
Book Dimensions: 5.5 in. x 8.5 in.
288 Pages

About the Book

Grant Buday’s new novel is an eccentric coming-of-age story that captures the late-Victorian fascination with ancient Egypt, auras, and the afterlife.

Smart, stubborn, and forthright Pearl Greyland-Smith is nine years old when we first meet her, in 1882. She lives with her widowed mother, Florence, in Victoria’s James Bay neighbourhood. Pearl’s father was a Hussar who died in Afghanistan, or that’s what Florence has always told Pearl. But when an Irish woman named Cassidy arrives at their door and addresses Florence as Sinead, Pearl begins to realize she may not know very much about her origins at all.

An avid reader with a rich inner life, as Pearl grows up she nonetheless confronts the scarcity of choices available to women. Yet while lacking in certain amenities, Pearl and Florence’s days are anything but dull, populated by characters easily at home in a Dickens novel: the earnest and enigmatic amateur scientist Charles Gloster, their bawdy, theosophist housemaid Carpy, inspector Osmo Beattie, and imperialist newspaper columnist Harry Hearne. Then a fateful encounter at a solstice fête throws Pearl’s whole future into question.

This delightful coming-of-age story, imbued with the Victorian fascination for auras and the afterlife, will appeal to readers of Patrick DeWitt and Eleanor Catton. Once again Grant Buday has turned distant West Coast history upside down and created a vivid world intimately relevant to us today.

About the Author(s)

Grant Buday is the author of the novels Dragonflies, White Lung, Sack of Teeth, Rootbound, The Delusionist, Atomic Road and Orphans of Empire, the memoir Stranger on a Strange Island, and the travel memoir Golden Goa. His novels have twice been nominated for the City of Vancouver book prize. His articles and essays have been published in Canadian magazines, and his short fiction has appeared in The Journey Prize Anthology and Best Canadian Short Stories. He lives on Mayne Island, British Columbia.


“Fans of tall tales, good lively writing, appealing characters, Wildean one-liners, wacky plots and/or unabashed entertainment — Buday’s eighth novel can do no wrong.” —Vancouver Sun

“It’s a fast-paced novel that describes a lively, dangerous, and often humorous chase” —The BC Review

“This charming coming-of-age story . . . brings to life the Victorian era on B.C.’s West Coast.” —Montecristo

“Buday’s brilliant use of language and evocation of early years in the city of Victoria keeps us firmly ensconced in the colonial version of the Victorian era . . . One is inevitably reminded of a modem-day Charles Dickens . . . Buday has contributed yet
another smart, impeccably researched, highly literate yet never stuffy, slyly hilarious
and thoroughly engaging book for his fans.” —BC Bookworld