Nominated by:

Saint John Free Public Library, Canada

Publisher of nominated edition:

Goose Lane Editions, Canada

The Town that Drowned

Riel Nason    

Living with an eccentric little brother can be tough. Falling through the ice at a skating party and nearly drowning are grounds for embarrassment. But having a vision and narrating it to assembled onlookers? That solidifies your status as an outcast.

What Ruby Carson saw during that fateful hallucination was her entire town — buildings and people — floating underwater.

Then an orange-tipped surveyor stake turns up in a farmer’s field. Another is found in the cemetery. The residents of Haventon soon discover that a massive dam is being constructed and that their homes will eventually be swallowed by the rising water. Suspicions mount, tempers flare, and long-simmering secrets are revealed. As the town prepares for its demise, 14-year-old Ruby Carson sees it all from a front-row seat.

Set in the 1960s, The Town That Drowned evokes the awkwardness of childhood, the thrill of first love, and the importance of having a place to call home. Deftly written in a deceptively unassuming style, Nason’s keen insights into human nature and the depth of human attachment to place make this novel ripple in an amber tension of light and shadow.

(From Publisher) 

About the Author

Riel Nason grew up in Hawkshaw, New Brunswick, not far from the St. John River. She now  lives in Quispamsis with her husband and two young children. Her short fiction has appeared in many literary journals in Canada, including The Malahat Review, Grain, The Dalhousie Review, Room, and The Antigonish Review. In 2005 she was awarded the David Adams Richards Prize from the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick for a collection of short stories.

She has also written many non-fiction articles on antiques and collectibles, including a long-time column in New Brunswick’s Telegraph-Journal. Her first novel, The Town That Drowned, won the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award and the Commonwealth Book Prize, Canada and Europe.

Librarian’s Comments

The Town that Drowned is a unique, compelling coming-of-age story, it raises thoughtful questions about the meaning of home and the nature of progress. Written with a deceptively unassuming accessible style, displaying sensitivity, humour and pathos. It has memorable characters and engaging voices. Nominated for the Commonwealth Book Prize.

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