The Island Walkers

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 April, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 April, 2005, 12:00am
 

The Island Walkers


by John Bemrose


John Murray $124


In the crook of a bend in the Attawan River in southwestern Ontario lies the Island, a tight-knit, working-class community, where the Walker family has lived for generations. It's 1965 and Alf Walker works at a mill, which has recently been taken over by a large corporation. Anticipating reorganisation and redundancies, the workers form a union, expecting the reluctant Alf to lead them. His 18-year-old son, Joe, has fallen for the daughter of the mill owner, and his eight-year-old son, Jamie, is preyed on by a paedophile. Set over a year and introducing a large cast of characters, the novel stretches back in time - to Alf's memories of the second world war and his brother's death; and to tales of the town's founder, Abraham Shade. It's a story about hardship, and the ending is heart wrenching. Long-listed for the Man Booker Prize 2004 and a finalist for the 2003 Giller Prize.


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