The Big Why
By Michael Winter
(Bloomsbury USA, Hardcover, 9781596910256, 384pp.)
Publication Date: January 24, 2006
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Michael Winter's powerful new novel, The Big Why, brilliantly fictionalizes a pivotal year in the life of celebrated American artist Rockwell Kent. In 1914, at the age of thirty, Kent decides to escape the superficial world of New York City and move to Brigus, Newfoundland, with his wife and three children to follow a few months later. A socialist and a philanderer, certain in the greatness of his work, he is drawn north by a fascination for the rocky Atlantic coast and by the example of Brigus's other well-known resident, fabled Arctic explorer Robert Bartlett. But once in Newfoundland, Kent discovers that notoriety is even easier to achieve in a small town than in New York. As events come to a head both internationally and domestically and the war begins, Kent becomes a polarizing figure in this intimate, impoverished community, where everyone knows everyone and any outsider is suspect, possibly even a German spy. Writing in Kent's voice, Michael Winter delivers a passionate, witty, and cerebral exploration of what makes exceptional individuals who they are--and why.
Shortlisted for the Trillium Award
Michael Winter grew up in Newfoundland, Canada, and now lives in the relative warmth of Toronto. He is the author of four previous books.
"A wild and bravely written novel that shatters the spine of 'historical fiction.'"
"Wonderful...engaging, funny, keenly observed, [and] disarmingly wise...read-again beautiful."
"The Big Why is the work of a powerful talent, one of the best--and most distinctive--younger writers on the Canadian scene. The novel is a page-turner...because of its clarity and richness of its voice."
"A superb novel with grandeur of emotional dimension. This is an important book nearly to the point of cruelty, wherein the struggle between an individual and his wife and the larger community remind us again of the immense value of literature."
-Jim Harrison, author of True North
"Contains some of the finest writing we are likely to read this season."