The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

1. First lines. 2. Published 2003 Simon & Schuster; Fourth Estate First published 1993. 3. The house in the film ‘The Shipping News’ from Trinity Harbour By Haydn Blackey [CC BY-SA 2.0] Changes made: Adjusted lighting; cropped; filter applied. via flickr 4. Knots. Photos taken of chapter headings inside the book. Own work.
Quirky, compelling and in parts quite comical.

Quoyle has a failed marriage, and a series of failed jobs. With his aunt Agnis, and his two young daughters Bunny and Sunshine, he moves to the Newfoundland coast to take up a position as reporter of the shipping news at the local paper. Haunted by the demons of his past, he settles in the town, working to establish a home for he and his daughters.

“We face up to awful things because we can’t go around them, or forget them. The sooner you say ‘Yes, it happened, and there’s nothing I can do about it,’ the sooner you can get on with your own life. You’ve got children to bring up. So you’ve got to get over it. What we have to get over, somehow we do. Even the worst things.”

“You’ve got a chance to start out all over again. A new place, new people, new sights. A clean slate. See, you can be anything you want with a fresh start.”

“You know, the Chinese have forgotten more about sailing than the rest of the world ever knew.”

~Quotes from “The Shipping News” by Annie Proulx
  • Publishers Weekly: “a moving evocation of a place and people buffeted by nature and change. Proulx routinely does without nouns and conjunctions–‘Quoyle, grinning. Expected to hear they were having a kid. Already picked himself for godfather’–but her terse prose seems perfectly at home on the rocky Newfoundland coast.”
  • Washington Post: “And through a cast of improbably named characters (Nutbeam, Diddy Shovel, Tert Card, among many) Proulx regales us with a pandect of Newfoundland lore. Some of it is cruel and nasty, most of it is harrowing but all of it is lustily entertaining. She goes on a little too long about Gaze Island (from whence the Quoyles skidded the ancestral home across the ice); she strays from her established points of view to throw in a seal hunt; there are moments of exaggerated portentousness, a forced invention and a surfeit of obscure vocabulary (jaggled hair frowsting down, a craquelured surface, etc.). But this is a novel bursting with story, a lot of dimes for your dollar.”
Other editions.

Film adaptation: The novel has been made into a film called “The Shipping News” starring Kevin Spacey, Julianne Moore, and Judi Dench.

Awards: 1994 Pullitzer Prize for Fiction; 1993 National Book award for Fiction


  1. Read this many years ago and found it leaden like the skies described in the book, but quite a good yarn.


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