Canada Reads 2005 Winner!
In a David and Goliath style battle to the finish, Rockbound by Frank Parker Day triumphed over Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood and was declared the 2005 Canada Reads winner. In a series of debates that aired on the CBC in February, panelist Donna Morrissey, author of Kit’s Law and Downhill Chance, passionately championed this 1928 novel about life and nature on the small maritime island of Rockbound. The victory has brought this Atlantic Province favourite back into the limelight and is receiving nationwide attention, appearing on several bestseller lists across the country.
After its initial publication, Rockbound remained in out of print status until 1973, when the University of Toronto Press acquired the rights to publish as part of their “Literature of Canada Prose and Poetry in Reprint” series. It was reprinted with an introduction by Allan Bevan of Dalhousie University’s English Department.
In 1989, Gerald Hallowell, an editor with the University of Toronto Press, rescued Rockbound from the backlist of the UTP catalogue. The book was reprinted with an afterword by Gwendolyn Davies, Dean of Graduate Studies and Associate Vice-President (Research) at the University of New Brunswick.
UTP had been selling around 200 copies of the book per year, until Donna Morrissey selected it for the Canada Reads debates. Since then, UTP has sold over 35,000 copies and it has been reprinted three times!
The University of Toronto Press would like to thank Donna Morrissey for her superb defense of the book and all of the people at the CBC for their support and encouragement. A complete synopsis of the debates, as well as an interactive timeline for Rockbound and Frank Parker Day can be found on their website, www.cbc.ca/canadareads/index.html.
Copies of Rockbound can be found in abundance at the University of Toronto Bookstore, www.uoftbookstore.com, or at your local bookstore.
To the harsh domain of Rockbound -- governed by the sternly righteous and rapacious Uriah Jung --comes the youthful David Jung to claim his small share of the island. Filled with dreamy optimism and a love for the unspoken promises of the night sky, David tries to find his way in a narrow, unforgiving, and controlled world. His conflicts are both internal and external, locking him in an unceasing struggle for survival; sometimes the sea is his enemy, sometimes his own rude behavior, sometimes his best friend Gershom Born, sometimes his secret love for the island teacher Mary Dauphiny; but always, inevitably, his Jung relatives and their manifold ambitions for money and power.
The balance of life on Rockbound is precarious and thus fiercely guarded by all who inhabit its lonely domain, but just as a sudden change in the direction of the wind can lead to certain peril at sea, so too can the sudden change in the direction of a man's heart lead to a danger altogether unknown.
Enormously evocative of the power, terror, and dramatic beauty of the Atlantic sea, and unrelenting in its portrait of back-breaking labour, cunning bitterness, and family strife, Rockbound is a story of many passions-love, pride, greed, and yearning -- all formed and buffeted on a small island by an unyielding wind and the rocky landscape of the human spirit.