Journalism meets fiction in Sara Tilley’s follow-up novel

Duke
by Sara Tilley
$22.00, paperback, 412 pp.
Pedlar Press, March 2015

Duke Sara TilleyTilley’s sophomore novel, Duke, which is based on a trove of century-old journals and letters written by her great-grandfather, chronicles his experiences working up North and his yearning to return home to the life, and love, he left behind.

This follow-up to the excellent Skin Room is a seamless marriage of fact and fiction, using those primary documents as her main source of inspiration. Duke, a young man looking to put his stamp on the world, leaves his outport community of Elliston to work as a stevedore, eventually making his way to the Yukon. It’s at an isolated logging cabin maintained by his older brother where Duke’s brush with violence and sudden death has a transformative effect on him. “Alaska,” Tilley writes, “makes the spirit wild and it’s like your virtues wash away.”

With Duke, Sara Tilley crosses many literary genres and geographical territory and further establishes herself as a considerable literary talent. It will surely garner her much deserved critical praise.

Duke
by Sara Tilley
$22.00, paperback, 412 pp.
Pedlar Press, March 2015

Written By

Mike Heffernan was born and raised in St. John’s, Newfoundland. He is the bestselling author of Rig: An Oral History of the Ocean Ranger Disaster and The Other Side of Midnight: Taxicab Stores. He is currently working on Scumtribe: Ten Years that Changed Newfoundland Music, 1985-95.

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1 Comment

  • Hi Mike,
    Just finished reading this excellent novel, which I was excited to pick up because of Sara Tilley’s amazing writing but also because of getting to know her a bit when she was the Berton House Writer-in-Residence in Dawson City in 2011. I loved this adventurous, experimental-yet-accessible read!
    I prefer to look up reviews of books after I read them, so just came across yours now. Wanted to point out that the protagonist Duke did not work as a stevedore on the Great Lakes, but on the steamships traveling from Lake Bennett/Whitehorse up the Yukon River to Dawson City and back. He goes from NL to Vancouver and then to Whitehorse – no stops in Ont. Might want to correct? (and feel free remove this comment afterwards)
    best,
    Meg W, Dawson City

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