This Day In Literary History
On November 17th, 1993, The Shipping News, the classic novel by the famous American writer Annie Proulx, won the National Book Award. It wasn't the first award her writing received; her previous (and first) novel, Postcards (1992) won the PEN / Faulkner Award.
The Shipping News is the moving chronicle of Quoyle, a man who faces unexpected and tragic twists and turns in his life and struggles to move on.
First, Quoyle's parents commit suicide, then his abusive, cheating wife Petal abducts their young daughters and runs off with her lover. After selling the children to a black market adoption agency for six thousand dollars, Petal and her lover are killed in a car accident.
Later, the police find Quoyle's daughters and they are returned to him, safe and sound. Unfortunately, his life is falling apart. Then his eccentric aunt, Agnis Hamm, (his father's sister) pays an unexpected visit.
Aunt Agnis convinces him to take the girls and return to the family's ancestral home in Newfoundland, (his father had emigrated to upstate New York) located on Quoyle's Point. There, he could make a fresh start.
In Newfoundland, Quoyle takes a job as a car accident reporter for the Gammy Bird, the local newspaper of Killick-Claw. (Quoyle had previously worked for a newspaper in New York.)
The editor also assigns him to cover the shipping news - the arrivals and departures at the local port. This results in Quoyle writing a series of popular articles on boats of interest in the harbor.
While making a new life for himself in Newfoundland, Quoyle makes new friends within the community and falls in love with a local woman named Wavey. He finds his emotional strength and self confidence growing - both of which he'll need, as disturbing secrets about his family history begin to emerge.
A year after it won the National Book Award, The Shipping News won its author a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. In 2001, it was adapted as an acclaimed feature film, directed by legendary Swedish filmmaker Lasse Hallstrom. It starred Kevin Spacey as Quoyle, Julianne Moore as Wavey, and Dame Judi Dench as Aunt Agnis.
Annie Proulx would become most famous for her acclaimed short story, Brokeback Mountain, which would be adapted as an Academy Award winning feature film in 2005. Her most recent novel, Barkskins, was published in 2016.
Quote Of The Day
"You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences, and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write." - Annie Proulx
Today's video features Annie Proulx being interviewed before a live audience at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne, Australia. Enjoy!