|Published:||June 30th 2015||Pages:||336|
"Crummey has written one hell of a book. . . . It's an enthralling read, hilarious and heartbreaking by turns, populated by characters who seem, on first glimpse, to be wilfully eccentric, but emerge as realistic and grounded, taking what control they can of their lives. . . . Sweetland is a thing of beauty, one of the finest novels we are likely to encounter this year. It demonstrates, as the best fiction does (and as Crummey's novels always have) that the past is always with us, and that contemporary events are history embodied and in motion." --Vancouver Sun
For twelve generations, when the fish were plentiful and when they all-but disappeared, the inhabitants of this remote island in Newfoundland have lived and died together. Now, in the second decade of the 21st century, they are facing resettlement, and each has been offered a generous compensation package to leave. But the money is offered with a proviso: everyone has to go; the government won't be responsible for one crazy coot who chooses to stay alone on an island.
That coot is Moses Sweetland. Motivated in part by a sense of history and belonging, haunted by memories of the short and lonely time he spent away from his home as a younger man, and concerned that his somewhat eccentric great-nephew will wilt on the mainland, Moses refuses to leave. But in the face of determined, sometimes violent, opposition from his family and his friends, Sweetland is eventually swayed to sign on to the government's plan. Then a tragic accident prompts him to fake his own death and stay on the deserted island. As he manages a desperately diminishing food supply, and battles against the ravages of weather, Sweetland finds himself in the company of the vibrant ghosts of the former islanders, whose porch lights still seem to turn on at night.
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 national bestseller and 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. He lives in St. John's, Newfoundland.