LONGLISTED FOR THE 2019 SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE
From bestselling, award-winning author Michael Crummey comes a sweeping, heart-wrenching, deeply immersive novel about a brother and sister alone in a small world.
A brother and sister are orphaned in an isolated cove on Newfoundland's northern coastline. Their home is a stretch of rocky shore governed by the feral ocean, by a relentless pendulum of abundance and murderous scarcity. Still children with only the barest notion of the outside world, they have nothing but the family's boat and the little knowledge passed on haphazardly by their mother and father to keep them.
As they fight for their own survival through years of meagre catches and storms and ravaging illness, it is their fierce loyalty to each other that motivates and sustains them. But as seasons pass and they wade deeper into the mystery of their own natures, even that loyalty will be tested.
This novel is richly imagined and compulsively readable, a riveting story of hardship and survival, and an unflinching exploration of the bond between brother and sister. By turns electrifying and heartbreaking, it is a testament to the bounty and barbarity of the world, to the wonders and strangeness of our individual selves.
MICHAEL CRUMMEY is the author of a memoir, Newfoundland: Journey into a Lost Nation; three books of poetry including Arguments with Gravity, winner of the Writers' Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador Book Award for Poetry; and a book of short stories, Flesh & Blood. His first novel, River Thieves, was a finalist for the 2001 Scotiabank Giller Prize; and his second novel, The Wreckage, was a finalist for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. His third novel, Galore, won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Canada and the Caribbean) and was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award. His most recent novel, Sweetland, was also a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award. He lives in St. John's, Newfoundland.
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2019 SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE
"The Innocents resists reader anticipation at every turn. . . . This willingness to resist the easy narrative path is one of The Innocents' great strengths. . . . Crummey is able to create sentences of considerable beauty and force without ever seeming to overstep himself, a complexity rooted in the emotional weight of the language and his comfort with the vernacular. The novel never reads as excessive; its beauty is restrained, weighted and often heartbreaking. Which is perhaps the best description of the novel overall. Crummey makes a virtue of the self-imposed limitations of the story—essentially two characters in a single setting—to explore the nature of what makes us who we are, what makes a family and the sacrifices that are made in the name of love." —Toronto Star
"A gripping and credible page-turner about children surviving in the wilderness, but more than that: this Adam and Eve struggle to make sense of a world that's somewhere between Eden and Hell. Michael Crummey writes like an avenging angel, never putting a word wrong." —Emma Donoghue, author of Room
"Michael Crummey's The Innocents is a dazzling and myriad achievement. Set against the unforgiving Newfoundland frontier, this harrowing tale of two siblings eking out a teetering existence is difficult to witness and impossible to put down. But what makes this story timeless is Crummey's rich depiction of the human heart in extremis, the unflagging beat of life in a world that is too much to bear. Set aside whatever you're reading and pick this up—The Innocents is a masterpiece." —Smith Henderson, author of Fourth of July Creek
"Michael Crummey's new novel The Innocents is a fantastic read. Written in graceful and evocative prose, Ada and Evered's story blurs the boundary between the quotidian and the strange until it becomes a meditation on the curious fact of existence itself. A wonderfully provocative and insightful book." —Kevin Powers, author of The Yellow Birds and A Shout in the Ruins
"Few novels have cast their spell on me as deeply as The Innocents. I am reminded of Dickens, not just the nineteenth-century setting and the imperiled children, but the artfulness: brilliant plot, unforgettable minor characters, perfect pacing. Yet Michael Crummey's poetic voice and landscape are his own. The Innocents is brilliant." —Ron Rash, author of Serena
"Crummey's refusal to go where you might expect . . . provides page-turning pleasures. You can't wait to see what happens next. An unusual, gripping period novel from a much-honored Canadian writer." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Praise for Michael Crummey
"Michael Crummey is without a doubt one of Canada's finest writers." —The Globe and Mail
"Crummey is a poet and a storyteller and he has an extraordinary way of pinning down even a squirming reader and charming them into submission. He's wise in that old soul way. He explores human nature, charting the moral choices of his characters without passing judgement. . . . Crummey's gift is to write with compassion, imbuing the relationships with complexity and depth. He doesn't make anything simple—or simplistic." —National Post
"It's a rare writer who can fashion a vivid memorial to an all-but-vanished way of life; it's a rarer one who can excavate the vernacular and raise it to planes so poignantly and viscerally true, the exquisite beauty of the apparently ordinary shimmers with a matter-of-fact clarity guaranteed to curl your toes." —Toronto Star
"Crummey's craftsmanship is masterful." —Maclean's
"Crummey's elegant prose and storytelling prowess make abundantly clear [that] no man is an island." —The New York Times Book Review
"Crummey's poetics are like the landscape he describes: stark and sparse, but punctuated with a wild richness that creates the impression of something carefully controlled yet on the verge of bursting. . . . In Crummey's capable hands, the setting breeds magic, and the individuals that populate its rugged terrain are nuanced and real." —The Walrus