When I discovered that a novel set in my native Newfoundland had won the 1993 Irish Times International Fiction Prize, I was a little surprised. Newfoundland, isolated and little known outside Canada, seemed an unlikely setting for an acclaimed novel.
The Shipping News, by American writer E. Annie Proulx, has since won other awards and become an international best-seller, its theme of redemption in a harsh environment striking a chord in many readers. To me, as an expatriate Newfoundlander, the novel works a deep magic. Proulx’s Newfoundland villages are imaginary, but she captures the essence of a very real place and people.