ISBN is

978-0-385-65810-2 / 0385658109

River Thieves

by Michael Crummey

Publisher:Canongate Books

Edition:Softcover

Language:English

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About the book:

2001 Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award Shortlist:: In River Thieves, his first novel, poet and short-story writer Michael Crummey reaches far into Newfoundland's past to tell one of the colony's most tragic stories: the extermination of the Beothuk people. Through the lives and reminiscences of some of the colony's most prominent European residents--David Buchan, a naval explorer and idealist who attempts to bring the isolated Beothuks into productive contact with the British Empire; John Peyton Jr., the obedient son of a relentlessly patriarchal local trader; Cassie Jure, John Peyton Sr.'s literate, aloof housekeeper; and Joseph Reilly, a transported Irish thief and a genuinely decent trapper--Crummey recounts a half-hearted attempt, foiled by the colony's petty tensions, to save the Beothuks.

River Thieves is an oddly meandering novel, but this is its greatest appeal. Rather than offering a grisly, guilt-ridden adventure story that rushes from its suitably portentous beginning to its inevitably sombre end, Crummey works with a fitful sort of history, one that has to go over the same events a few times before they begin to give up their secrets, temporarily leaving his readers as disoriented as his benighted characters. The book's real heart--the Beothuksis never fully articulated; they remain buried on the shore, or encamped among the snows of Red Indian Lake. Anyone who wants this kind of story to come equipped with heroes and, perhaps, even answers, should turn to Rudy Wiebe, but Crummey's labyrinthine approach has its own distinct appeal. --Jack Illingworth

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