Sweetland Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Aug 19 2014
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A Globe and Mail Best Book of 2014
Winner of the 2014 CBC Bookie Award for Fiction
Winner of the Newfoundland & Labrador Book Award for Fiction
Finalist for the 2014 Governor General’s Award for Fiction
Nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award
"Crummey's latest novel left me with a sadness I have trouble translating into words. . . . His graceful prose slowly weaves the reader into the fabric of the community. . . . [and he writes] into reality the small islands that have been left out of official accounts, omitted from commemorative maps." —The Toronto Review of Books
"Unlike most novels steeped in rural nostalgia, it gets a kick out of contemporary life. . . . But the elimination of an entire community, and what it represents, is deeply felt. Through its crusty protagonist, Crummey’s shrewd, absorbing novel tells us how rich a life can be, even when experienced in the narrowest of physical confines." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"[A] moving story." ―The New York Times Book Review
"While this may be a modern tale of survival in an inhospitable landscape and economy, Crummey’s secondary character sketches are a poignant tribute to resilient generations past. . . . Both humorous and downright heartbreaking." —Atlantic Books Today
"This book compacts all of Michael Crummey’s considerable versatility as a writer: his spare lyricism as a poet; his breadth of observation as a novelist; his deftness with historical fiction and magic realism; his interest in memory; his rootedness, his soaring imagination and his humour." —The Telegram (St. John’s)
"In tone, mood and atmosphere, the novel recalls Newfoundland-born David Blackwood's ghostly etchings that depict so powerfully and so evocatively a vanishing way of life. . . . But more important, Sweetland is its own creation—one that immerses readers in a lost, lovingly remembered and attentively rendered world, recalling the unrecoverable past, a tale of myth and magic, of memory and loss." —The Record (Kitchener-Waterloo)
"Crummey's an almost magical writer: his characters and places form up inside my head, and won’t leave. . . . The biggest letdown for me is when I’ve run out of Crummey. On top of that, the premise for Sweetland—the internal conflict of an isolated Newfoundland town where residents have to vote unanimously to collect government payments to leave—is an intriguing one, to say the least. In his hands, it will surely rock. I look forward to a slow, delightful read." —Russell Wangersky, The Globe and Mail
"Sweetland might be Michael Crummey's best novel, even though such earlier work as River Thieves, The Wreckage and Galore has garnered both literary awards and international acclaim. The book has a singular appeal, one which will live in the minds of readers long after its story is concluded. . . . The book is a gem." —The Observer (Sarnia)
"[Crummey] does both man and place justice: Moses is a memorably strong-willed character, whose manner of thinking and speaking are dying out. The novel also conveys the way that a sense of place is the product of relationships—among the living, with the dead, and, in Moses’s case, arising from intimate connections to land and sea." —Publishers Weekly
"Once again, Michael 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." —The Vancouver Sun
"For a writer who always explores the same theme—loss, both accidental and inevitable, coupled with a resilience that surprises the characters themselves—Michael Crummey never repeats himself. . . . Crummey’s finest novel yet reaches its mythic and mesmerizing heights only after the others depart, leaving Moses . . . bracing for a bitter winter both seasonal and personal." —Maclean’s
"A small-town tale brimming with unconventional characters turns into a survival story of catastrophic loneliness mixed with bittersweet memories." —Chatelaine
"Crummey’s novel in no way resembles a Hollywood treatment of this recognizable storyline… It is in Crummey’s slow teasing out of Moses Sweetland’s personal history that the narrative derives its strength, depth, and humanity. It is also through this process that the novel’s protagonist – and its readers – are reminded… that ‘no man is an island,’ no matter the lengths he might take to set himself apart." —Quill & Quire
"Seductive, supple and haunting. . . . Sweetland is a wistful eulogy for a dying way of life." —Toronto Star
"Remarkable . . . The conflict between the old and new ways, memory and reality are ongoing themes in the novel, strengthened by Crummey's knack for seamlessly mixing past and present." —Calgary Herald
"Like any very good novel, Sweetland continues to resonate just offstage, in its own dream chamber, long after first reading, calling for a second performance. This reader, for one, has gratefully accepted the invitation." —Winnipeg Free Press
"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." —National Post
"Crummey’s novel is all of a piece, its apparent simplicity of style, like that of its protagonist and his setting, concealing a primordial power. Much of the book’s beauty lies in its finely wrought portrait of this last, exemplary islander, who—in the manner of Judah, the mute whale-born man in Galore—sustains those around him in ways so unobtrusive and gracious that detecting them can be like discovering buried treasure." —The Globe and Mail
About the Author
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
Oh, where to start? I simply don't think I have the words to do this book justice.
Moses Sweetland has lived on Sweetland Island, Newfoundland for his entire sixty nine years - as did his father and many generations before that. There were a few trips off island for work, but this is home. Until the government decides that the community needs to be 'resettled'. (This is very real - both past and present) The offer is generous and all of the residents accept the package - except Moses Sweetland. But the government's offer stipulates that everyone must agree and sign before the offer goes through. The first half of the book introduces us to Moses and the other residents of the village. Crummey's residents are unique and unforgettable - from the woman who has not set foot outside her house in forty years to the barber who hasn't cut anyone's hair in almost that long and more. Moses's young nephew Jesse was particularly moving. But it was the character of Moses that grabbed me and simply wouldn't let me go.
Moses's crusty exterior and brusque manner disguise his emotions and 'softer side.' His self sufficiency and work ethic reminded me so much of the hardworking older generations in my life. Taciturn men (and women) who 'just got on with it'.
Crummey tells his story with bits and pieces of the past explained and explored in separate chapters. From these, we are privy to the events that have shaped Moses's life. Sweetland is divided into two parts.Read more ›
Sweetland is brilliant, and I immediately went out and bought everything else he has written once it was finished. I'm going to buy it for my mother for Christmas too, and share the greatness.
Most recent customer reviews
Did not like Galore - read it after Sweetland. Sweetland was okay but somewhat strange. Would not recommend Galore but am still reading it as I hate to give up on a book. Read morePublished 6 days ago by Helen Nicholson
Fantastic read! Couldn't put it down. Am looking forward to reading more by Mr Crummet.Published 9 days ago by MagnBlaze
Excellent read. Enjoyed the layers in this story and the sadness of the relocation of communities that was a reality in Newfoundland.Published 2 months ago by flycatcher
Nicely written with humour and good character development, but kind of a miserable story. While recognizing that I was reading "good literature", I kept looking at the %... Read morePublished 4 months ago by reader_in_canada
A captivating fictional novel by Michael Crummey. Many aspects and details about Newfoundland culture and history, and the government resettlement of coastal communities were... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Gary Renaud