The Prairie Novels Front Cover

Paperback / softback
ISBN: 9780889225015
Pages: 320
Pub. Date: March 15 2004
Dimensions: 9.75" x 6.75" x 1"
Rights: Available: WORLD
Categories
Fiction / FIC019000

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The Prairie Novels

By George Ryga
Edited by James Hoffman

James Hoffman, George Ryga’s biographer, provides a brilliant guide to the reader of this collection, with a compelling reappraisal of Ryga’s fiction as far ahead of its time. The three short novels included here—Hungry Hills, Ballad of a Stonepicker and Night Desk—draw from the same large canvas of rural, depression-era Alberta. They have similar stark prairie settings and a recognizable array of colourful, cantankerous homesteader and dirt farmer characters, all of whom take us in many pleasurable, disturbing and revealing directions, both historical and mythopoetic. This was a period of obstinate survival farming and boisterous, ethnically diverse community building, redolent with the more questionable aspects of colonial ‘settling’ and ‘breaking’ of the land, in a place that was never unsettled or unclaimed to begin with.

Told in a homey vernacular, each of these three tales evokes a time and place that is as ironically as it is emphatically post-colonial. Ryga offers the reader (and re-reader) characters with a rough-hewn energy for survival and self-determination, and finds in them the beginnings of an authentic prairie culture defined by the anti-colonial struggle that so powerfully marks his work.

“… propelled by compassion and moral outrage, but also by a peculiar and personal awareness of the life and death of human cultures and the values they contain.”
Globe & Mail