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