Synopses & Reviews
Winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book, Caribbean & Canada and the Canadian Authors Association Literary Award; Finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Book Award, and the Winterset Award
When a whale beaches itself on the shore of the remote coastal town of Paradise Deep, the last thing any of the townspeople expect to find inside it is a man, silent and reeking of fish, but remarkably alive. The discovery of this mysterious person, soon christened Judah, sets the town scrambling for answers as its most prominent citizens weigh in on whether he is man or beast, blessing or curse, miracle or demon. Though Judah is a shocking addition, the town of Paradise Deep is already full of unusual characters. King-me Sellers, self-appointed patriarch, has it in for an inscrutable woman known only as Devine’s Widow, with whom he has a decades-old feud. Her granddaughter, Mary Tryphena, is just a child when Judah washes ashore, but finds herself tied to him all her life in ways she never expects. Galore is the story of the saga that develops between these families, full of bitterness and love, spanning two centuries.
With Paradise Deep, award-winning novelist Michael Crummey imagines a realm where the line between the everyday and the otherworldly is impossible to discern. Sprawling and intimate, stark and fantastical, Galore is a novel about the power of stories to shape and sustain us.
"Crummey (River Thieves) returns readers to historic Newfoundland in his mythic and gorgeous latest, set over the course of a century in the life of a hardscrabble fishing community. After a lean early-19th-century winter, a whale beaches itself and everyone in town gathers to help with the slaughter. But when a woman known only as Devine's Widow when she's not called an outright witch cuts into the belly, the body of an albino man slides out. He eventually revives, turns out to be a mute, and is dubbed Judah by the locals. Judah's mystery is his appearance responsible for the great fishing season that follows? is only one among many in this wild place, where the people are afflicted by ghosts and curses as much as cold and hunger. Crummey's survey eventually telescopes to the early 20th century, when Judah's pale great-grandson, Abel, sequesters himself amid medical debris in an old hospital where his opera singer cousin, Esther Newman, has returned and resolved to drink herself to death. But before she does so, she shares with him the family history he never knew. Crummey lovingly carves out the privation and inner intricacies that mark his characters' lives with folkloric embellishments and the precision of the finest scrimshaw. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
About the Author
Michael Crummey is a poet and storyteller, and the author of the critically acclaimed novels River Thieves and The Wreckage and the short story collection Flesh and Blood. He has been nominated for the Giller Prize, the IMPAC Dublin Award, and Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Canada for Galore. He lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Reading Group Guide
1. What do you think of the way Judah comes to Paradise Deep? How do you imagine he came to be inside a whale? Why does Devine's Widow choose to protect him and King-Me Sellers to suspect him?
2. Judah gets his name because the people in town cannot correctly recall the name of the Biblical Jonah, who is swallowed by a whale. King-Me Sellers, Devine's Widow, Lazarus, and many other characters are also given odd names for peculiar reasons. What is the significance of names and naming in Galore.
3. What did you think of the Mummers? What role do they play in advancing the plot? Are they harmless troublemakers or a genuine menace?
4. Many of the stories in Galore are love stories, some go well and some go badly. Discuss some of the couples in the novel, King-Me and Selina, Mr. and Mrs. Gallery, Callum and Lizzie, Mary Tryphena and Henry Devine, Dr. Newman and Bride, and how some of these pairs become triangles with the addition of a third person, Devine's Widow, Father Phelan, Judah, etc.
5. How is religion portrayed in Galore? There are many feuding sects and battles for parishioners - does any parish come out the winner? How do the people in town seem to choose between them?
6. Several of these characters experience terrible physical suffering - Mrs. Gallery, Bride, Tryphie - and all of the families battle the harsh climate and dangers of deprivation; how does the extreme nature of life in Paradise Deep impact the atmosphere of Galore?
7. What role do outsiders like Dr. Newman and Mr. Coaker play in the novel? Are outsiders able to fit in in Paradise Deep?
8. Did you suspect that Judah was the one who wrote the love letters to Mary Tryphena? How do you think their marriage would have been different if she'd known he loved her?
9. What do you think of the ending? How do you think Judah and Abel are connected? What does the whale come to stand for in the story?
10. Of the title, Michael Crummey has said "When I was writing this book I felt a sense of abundance. The source material--the folklore of Newfoundland--is so incredibly rich that I wanted to use that word. One thing I liked about 'galore' is that 'abundance' has only positive connotations, but 'galore' can be used in any situation. You could have money galore or fish galore, but you can also have trouble galore or misery galore." Discuss the significance of the title. Do you think it fits the book?