Nominated by:

Ottawa Public Library, Canada

Publisher of nominated edition:

Doubleday, Canada

Incidents in the Life of Markus Paul

David Adams Richards    

Longlist 2013

On a bright morning in June 1985, a young Micmac man starts his first day of work—but by noon he is dead, killed mysteriously in the fourth hold of the cargo ship Lutheran. Hector Penniac had been planning to go to university, perhaps to study medicine. Roger Savage, a loner who has had to make his own way since his youth, comes under suspicion of killing Hector over a union card and a morning’s work. Even if he can’t quite put it into words, Roger immediately sees the ways in which Hector’s death will be viewed as symbolic, as more than an isolated tragedy—and that he is caught in a chain of events that will become more explosive with each passing day.

This is a novel that begins with an instant from today’s headlines, and digs down into the marrow to explore the oldest themes we know: murder and betrayal, race and history, the brutal and chaotic forces that guide the groups we are drawn into. Nothing is one-sided in David Adams Richards’ world—even the most scheming characters have moments of grace, while the most benevolent are shown to have selfish motives, or the need to show off their goodness. All are depicted with an almost Biblical gravity, framed by an understated genius of storytelling that makes this novel at once both an utterly gripping mystery, and a vitally important document of Canada’s broken past and divided present.

(From Publisher)

About the Author

Born in 1950 in Newcastle, New Brunswick, David Adams Richards was the third of William and Margaret Richards’ six children. He found his calling at the age of fourteen, after reading Oliver Twist, and embarked on a life of extraordinary purpose, one which he says didn’t help his finances: “Sometimes … I thought it would be better if I were a plumber, but I wouldn’t be very good.”

Richards has received numerous awards and prizes throughout his career. Most notably, he is one of few writers in the history of the Governor General’s Award to win in both the fiction (Nights Below Station Street) and non-fiction (Lines on the Water) categories. In addition to these two wins, he was nominated for Road to the Stilt House (in 1985), For Those Who Hunt the Wounded Down (in 1993) and Mercy Among the Children (in 2000). Considered by many to be Richards’ most accomplished novel, Mercy was co-winner of the Giller Award in 2000, and was shortlisted for the Trillium Award and the Thomas Raddell award. It also won the Canadian Booksellers Association author of the year and fiction book of the year awards. Over the years, Richards has also won countless regional awards for his novels and was awarded the prestigious Canada-Australia Literary Prize in 1992.

In addition to his twelve novels and two non-fiction books, Richards’ short stories and articles have been published in literary magazines and anthologies, plus he has two unpublished plays, The Dungarvan Whooper and Water Carriers, Bones and Earls: the Life of François Villon, and one unpublished novel, Donna. His literary papers were acquired in 1994 by the University of New Brunswick.

Librarian’s Comments

Incidents in the Life of Markus Paul is powerful and gripping, Richards’ thriller in the Miramichi speaks universal truths about human relationships and foibles.

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