Xiques does not think of Laurence as the author most Canadians know, the grandmotherly figure of the National Film Board documentaries, who aw-shucks demeanour contrasts with her bold writing. Instead, Xiques first discovered Laurence through her early stabs at fiction in the 1950's. At the time Laurence was a newly married university graduate who followed her husband to the Somaliland Protectorate. There she enjoyed long overland expeditions, slept under African skies and helped bring the first translations of Somali oral literature into English...As Xiques herself points out, this adventurous young woman is a long way removed from the grandmotherly figure that the NFB shows us in Lakefield, Ont., drinking tea in her kitchen or making leisurely trips to the post office.
Winnipeg Free Press
Margaret Laurence: The Making of a Writer is a densely packed and wonderfully informative account of Laurence's early years... Xiques has brought to her research a resolve that "attention must be paid to every detail" within her power to uncover. Her meticulous method has ushered in a book that expands and satisfies our understanding of "The Making of a Writer" in ways and details that no other of the many Laurence scholars has achieved. We are in her debt.
Books in Canada, November 2005
Backed up with extensive research, Xiques creates a delightful portrait of a shy, vibrant and strong-minded woman destined to be a fine writer. She brilliantly elucidates the many influences in Laurence's apprenticeship, from family to friends, teachers to colleagues. The book also includes a previously unpublished story, "Mrs. Cathcart, In and Out of Purdah" and two lesser-known pieces, "A Fable--For the Whaling Fleets" and "A Queen in Thebes". The accompanying fiction rounds out the already admirable biography, a treat for fans of Margaret Laurence and of Canadian literature.
University of Calgary, December 2005
Xiques' meticulously researched biography, spanning the first 38 years of Laurence's life, has much to recommend it...
What makes this book a welcome addition to the biographical accounts that narrate Laurence's life and times is Xiques' focused attention on the writer's apprenticeship to the craft and art of writing itself. Very often she refutes Laurence's own accounts of her writing successes and disappointments by using archival evidence (often in the form of letters written by Laurence herself or by her colleagues and friends)...
Xiques provides a picture of a woman driven to write regardless of her circumstances and despite the sometimes overwhelming tension of being a writer, a mother and a wife, a woman who persevered for nearly 20 years before she felt comfortable calling herself a writer - a writer, moreover, who could rely on her literary talents for a certain livelihood. The portrait is, by turns, fascinating, daunting and ultimately inspiring.
Margaret Laurence: The Making of a Writer by Donez Xiques is highly recommended for public and school library collections that serve young adults.
CM Magazine, April 14th 2006