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Howard Norman

Howard Norman grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After graduating from Western Michigan University, he moved to Canada to work as a writer and researcher, with a special interest in the country's indigenous Indian tribes. He is familiar with several Inuit and Algonquin dialects, and his published translations of northern folklore include Where the Chill Came From, How the Glooskap Outwits the Ice Giants (a children's book), and an anthology, Northern Tales, which he selected and edited.

In 1977, Norman first encountered the eastern seaboard of Newfoundland, and learned of a local artist who, at the turn of the century, had committed a murder. Armed with a time, a place, and an event, Norman spent the nears that followed thinking about the story that would become The Bird Artist. In the meantime, he wrote his first novel, The Northern Lights, which was nominated for the 1987 National Book Award, and a collection of short stories, Kiss in the Hotel Joseph Conrad.

Howard Norman's books have been translated -into twelve languages.


The Bird Artist

by Howard Norman

"My name is Fabian Vas. I live in Witless Bay, Newfoundland. You would not have heard of me. Obscurity is not necessarily failure, though; I am a bird artist, and have more or less made a living at it. Yet I murdered the lighthouse keeper; Botho August, and that is an equal part of how I think of myself."

With its first paragraph, Howard Norman's The Bird Artist announces its central themes. Set in a tiny coastal town, The Bird Artist addresses universal concerns: the safety of the known versus the attraction of the unknown, the redemptive potential of cre-ative expression, and the transfiguring-perhaps damaging-power of the human heart.

In developing these themes, Norman's prose reflects the unique landscape of Witless Bay: spare and beautiful, with stark emotion jutting out like cliffs above the sea. This guide was designed to illuminate your exploration of Norman's landscape, and we hope that it allows you to venture out into further discussion and study of this remarkable novel.


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