Since his popular breakthrough with The Bird Artist (1994), Howard Norman has continued to craft fiction set in remote Canada, where landscape shapes character, with a droll, bittersweet humor that illuminates the human condition. His latest novel earned the author some of the best reviews of his career, with its epistolary narrative of a father explaining himself to the daughter he hasn’t seen in almost two decades, sharing his experiences of the war years that shaped his destiny before she was born. Amid the darkness of the material, the novelist retains his warmth. “I hope that the comic parts provide a much needed emotional counterpoint to the largely melancholy nature of the story, which takes place largely during World War II, when perhaps even a little laughter was a kind of reprieve from the larger ghastliness of history,” says Norman. “One way this new novel is different from previous ones is that it is more journalistic, in the sense of it being in part inspired by real-life events, such as the sinking of the ferry Caribou by the German U-boat Laughing Cow in October l942. However, as in all my novels, it is the melancholy, haunting, offbeat humorous and deeply compelling lives of people in Atlantic Canada, and the history of the region itself, that is a unifying element, and I feel fortunate to have these things continue to sustain my literary imagination.”
For a list of all the year's best fiction books, click here.
What Is Left the Daughter
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt / July / 9780618735433 / $25.00
This book was featured in the Kirkus Best of 2010