Ten Good Seconds of Silence


Short-listed for the 2001 Rogers Writers’ Trust of Canada Fiction Prize and the Amazon.com/Books in Canada First Novel Prize

Lilith Boot’s life changes forever the night she drowns the flowers in her parents’ garden. Frightened by their daughter’s odd behaviour, and her recent pronouncements of psychic visions, the Boots send Lilith to a Vancouver mental hospital. It is there that she becomes pregnant, giving birth after her discharge.

Years later, Lilith uses her visions to help Toronto police find missing children. At the same time, her own daughter, Lemon, struggles to distinguish herself from her quirky mother. Searching for her identity, she sets off across the country in search of the father she has never met. In the process, both Lilith and Lemon discover that they can never escape from the past - or each other.

This debut novel introduces an astonishing new voice to the Canadian literary scene. With fresh, inspiring language, and characters who steal your heart, Elizabeth Ruth weaves together an unforgettable story of loss and landscape of memory.


Writers’ Trust of Canada Fiction Prize
Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award
City of Toronto Book Award


This is an important book for its daring, direct look at issues and people we too often confine not only in the margins of society, but in our minds as well.

The Toronto Star (November, 2001)

Brilliantly crafted and filled with glorious, intriguing characters, this debut novel from Canadian author elizabeth Rutgh is a joy to the heart and soul.

(October, 2001)

Ruth's debut novel strikes chords of identity, loss and memory that resonate with all of us.

(September, 2001)

nuanced and compelling writing.

(September, 2001)

a most unusual and impressive novel.

(January, 2002)

Ruth explores the things that make us tick with an attention to detail that never completely bogs down the plot's momentum. We quickly come to root for Lilith the survivor and love the scrappy Lemon's adolescent mistakes. This first novel forecasts a unique talent.

(September, 2001)

an engaging and original story.

Books in Canada (October, 2002)

Through Lilith's relationship with her own mother and her daughter, Ruth dares to confront the fine line between a maternal love that nurtures the child and a maternal love that functions to save the mother herself. In Ten Good Seconds of Silence, Elizabeth Ruth faces the complexity of motherhood, for mothers and their children alike.

Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering

About the Author

Elizabeth Ruth

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 6, 2014

Elizabeth Ruth

Elizabeth Ruth is the author of Ten Good Seconds of Silence. A Toronto-based writer whose fiction had been published in literary journals and anthologies across Canada, she has also written for CBC Radio, magazines, academic journals, and video. Elizabeth is an editor with Fireweed Journal and the founder and curator of a monthly literary reading series.