David Penhale


David Penhale lived in Dubai for several years. A published poet, he has honed his novel at writing workshops at the University of Iowa. He lives in Toronto where he teaches writing and is working on a second novel.




David Penhale
Cormorant Books 2011/12

Passing Through

A moving and witty novel about starting over in a changed world

Daniel Foster has a plan. A quick stop in Toronto to fix his daughter’s life, then off to Thailand.  After years working as an oil executive in Dubai, he has a small fortune, enough to fund a comfortable life under the palms.

Mary, his daughter, and Shawna, his 11 year-old granddaughter, are struggling to make ends meet in a rundown neighbourhood. A few days to put their finances in order, and Foster will get back on a plane.

So much for plans. A bank crash wipes out Foster’s savings. He’s marooned in a city he scarcely recognizes. His managerial skills are stale-dated, he is told. He prides himself on his people skills, but when it comes to love, he has a lot to learn.

The tense relationship with his daughter Mary and the growing warmth between Foster and young Shawna are pitch perfect. Foster’s cautious, cool romance with Jessica, an artist and a fellow victim of the bank collapse, is layered and revealing. We visit the dunes and wadis of the Arabian Peninsula, whose stark beauty has touched Foster deeply, and we explore the edgy, multi-ethnic city that becomes his home. Other pleasures are the wry social observations on big box, post-modern culture which arise from Foster’s attempts to get a job and rebuild his life.

A family drama reminiscent of the novels of Anne Tyler, Passing Through is a profound comic novel of contemporary life and society. With Daniel Foster, we discover what it means to belong, and what it takes to love.