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Extended Audio Sample The Antagonist Audiobook, by Lynn Coady Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (570 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Lynn Coady Narrator: MacLeod Andrews Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2013 ISBN: 9780385366298
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A piercing epistolary novel, The Antagonist explores, with wit and compassion, how the impressions of others shape, pervert, and flummox both our perceptions of ourselves and our very nature.

Gordon Rankin, Jr., aka “Rank,” thinks of himself as “King Midas in reverse”—and indeed misfortune seems to follow him at every turn. Against his will and his nature, he has long been considered—given his enormous size and strength—a goon and enforcer by his classmates, by his hockey coaches, and, not least, by his “tiny, angry” father. He gamely lives up to their expectations, until a vicious twist of fate forces him to flee underground. Now pushing forty, he discovers that an old, trusted friend from his college days has published a novel that borrows freely from the traumatic events of Rank’s own life. Outraged by this betrayal and feeling cruelly misrepresented, he bashes out his own version of his story in a barrage of e-mails to the novelist that range from funny to furious to heartbreaking.

With The Antagonist, Lynn Coady demonstrates all of the gifts that have made her one of Canada’s most respected young writers. Here she gives us an astonishing story of sons and fathers and mothers, of the rewards and betrayals of male friendship, and a large-spirited, hilarious, and exhilarating portrait of a man tearing his life apart in order to put himself back together.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Only a writer as wonderfully gifted as Lynn Coady could elicit such extraordinary sympathy for a man as full of self-destructive rage as Rank, her main character. You won’t soon forget either him or this haunting novel.” 

    Richard Russo

  • “Coady’s fluency in the language of the college boy [is] impressive, [as is] her feel for the camaraderie that is inseperable from rivalry and masculine aggression.”

    New Yorker

  • “An extraordinarily clever and sympathetic exploration of the cross-currents of male friendship, the intense relationships we make and abandon in school.”

    Washington Post

  • “A dramatic and funny confessional in reverse.”

    Marie Claire

  • “The pathos and humor brought to a challenging life story will appeal to many readers.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “This very human drama, laced with humor and insight, is strongly recommended.” 

    Library Journal

  • “It’s Coady’s ability to realistically portray Rank’s teens and university years and empathically conduct his search for self that makes The Antagonist more than just entertainment.”


  • “Smartly tuned and as unsettling as it intends to be.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize Finalist
  • A 2013 Washington Post Notable Book

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tim Grace | 2/13/2014

    " Quite enjoyed this book about a person who punished himself so much for things he couldn't control in his earlier life that he prevented himself from really growing up. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lori | 2/12/2014

    " This book unfolds in an interesting way. The author is Canadian, and now resides in Edmonton. The story was interesting, and the perspective it was told from added to the intrigue. It was a bit tedious (the voice tells his story, but is simultaneously telling his version of the same story as told by someone else (the voices in the book are not as confusing as my sentence might make it appear) in parts, but I enjoyed the journey. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Samantha | 2/12/2014

    " This book is amazing. Coady relates the story of Gordon Rankin in a series of unanswered emails. They slowly unravel the mystery of Rank's history, and the myth he's been telling himself about who he is. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chelsey-Marie | 2/11/2014

    " I read this book more because of who wrote it rather than an interest in the plot. I wasn't all that drawn to the idea, but once I started, Rank pulled me in quickly. He's such a surprising character and even though he and I are so, so different, as the book goes by, I think a lot of people would start to see aspects of themselves in him - his desire for people to interpret him properly, not to peg him down as a certain stereotype, etc. It's a pretty universal struggle from adolescence into adulthood. He wants to be recognized for what he is, and yet he thinks very little of himself at times. He's worried that only his mistakes will define him in others' eyes, but he won't look at himself in a different light, either. I think that's a very natural place to go when mistakes are made, accidents happen, that define others' lives. Rank only sees how he has hurt those around him, is desperate for everyone to see them as they were, accidents, but takes full responsibility as if they were intentional. His struggles with religion, similarly, show his need for forgiveness and self deprecation. At the same time, he is a fiercely proud character. I ended up very fond of Rank by the end. Both books I read by Coady astounded me with her casually portrayed insight - she doesn't shove it down your throat and the writing itself is accessible without being lazy, but she creates HUMAN characters that show an amazing eye on her part. The books have dramatic plots, but they feel as though they naturally occurred because of the people involved rather than were plotted. I thought this was a wonderful character study that cemented Coady as a favourite of mine. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lulu | 2/9/2014

    " A book about angry young men, the east coast, religion, guilt, and hockey. Does it sound familiar? But it's not, oh boy, is it not. Lynn Coady's narrative is set up in a series of emails from our main character, in his middle-age, to one of his university friends whom he hasn't seen in years. It's best if you read this story without knowing much more, but do expect to be taken in by Coady's eye for detail (I learned many, many things about how university-aged boys spend their time) and her ability to write her character's emotions into her work - anytime I put this book down, I also had to release the tension from my shoulders, pulled along as I was in the repressed anger that is the undercurrent to this novel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Becky | 2/7/2014

    " This book is an engaging read with a unique and clever structure. A slowly-emerging commentary on how fiction is created adds an extra layer to the story. The narrator is both funny and human, a man who is frequently changing his mind, lying or avoiding the truth, backtracking, and discovering things on the page. This book is a quick read that's both moving and thought-provoking. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gina Mulic | 2/1/2014

    " My first Kindle for iPad read! I loved the fast and furious pacing off the start, I was sucked right in for the ride. A nice easy read. Foreshadowing was heaily used but we werent left lingering too long to wither. An excellent example of a character sketch. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cathy | 1/18/2014

    " I LOVED this book! Ann Patchett scored a home-run with her choice for this month's book. The story was compelling, the language/voice sound, the writing simply amazing. It is the type of book that you want to reread because you KNOW you've missed so much the first time. Other reviews will tell you the story. I loved it and heartily recommend it! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jan Schindler | 1/6/2014

    " another one i didn't finish. i liked the concept of emails but just didn't hold my interest. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Janet | 1/4/2014

    " It was intriguing but sad as he "Rank" just kept getting deeper and deeper into trouble. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Brenda | 12/27/2013

    " interesting innovative prose but I wasn't really interested in the story nor the main character. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melissa | 12/5/2013

    " Not really what I was expecting but still a good novel. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bharat | 10/31/2013

    " Well written and engaging, thoughtful look at male violence and its consequences. Also takes on catholicism, evangelism and their less happy sides. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Luise | 9/7/2013

    " Fresh, original, reads like a psychological thriller, highly engaging from the first page, compelling character, a linguistic tour de force - enjoyed it very much. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Cynthia | 8/4/2013

    " I heard the author speak and she was fabulous, but the book start and restart just did me in. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lesley | 7/20/2013

    " Was an interesting story telling medium using the email idea and going back and forth in time, I enjoyed this one "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jacquelyn Cyr | 4/27/2013

    " An amazing novel - brilliant, well-written, sad and funny. Loved it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie | 4/13/2013

    " I enjoyed reading a Canadian book again, and found the subject matter interesting. (protagonist is a hockey 'goon' who needs to come to terms with his former violence). Overall, however, I didn't feel pulled into the book and didn't connect with any of the characters. An OK read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lynn Kearney | 2/16/2013

    " I loved this book. It's a reminder of how good Canlit can be! Must check out some others by Coady. "

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About the Author

Lynn Coady was nominated for the 1998 Governor General’s Award for Fiction for her first novel, Strange Heaven. She received the Canadian Authors Association Award for the best writer under thirty and the Dartmouth Book and Writing Award for fiction. Her second book, Play the Monster Blind, was a Globe and Mail Best Book of 2000; Saints of Big Harbour was a Globe and Mail Best Book in 2002. Her articles and reviews have appeared in several publications including Saturday NightThis magazine, and Chatelaine. Lynn Coady lives in Edmonton, Alberta.

About the Narrator

MacLeod Andrews is an actor, voice actor, and audiobook narrator. He has narrated dozens of audiobooks, earning eleven AudioFile Earphones Awards and placing as a finalist for the prestigious Audie Award for best narration in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. He is a company member of Rising Phoenix Repertory in Los Angeles.