Craig Davidson on Cataract City


Craig Davidson's Cataract City tells the story of childhood friends Owen and Duncan, who dream of a life beyond the borders of their hometown of Niagara Falls, Ont., a.k.a. Cataract City. Earlier this week it was announced that the novel made the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist. Davidson talked to CBC News about the book in a recent interview.

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"A lot of the book is a love letter to my own childhood and the things that I like," Davidson said. He grew up in Niagara Falls, which he described as "a gritty type of city." He went on to say that it seemed the ideal setting "to talk about some of the things I like to talk about as a writer." Behind "the glitz of the touristy part of the hill," he pointed out, "there's people who are struggling to make their living in factories."

A large part of Cataract City takes place in those factories, and class tensions are a major theme in the novel. The boys' fathers both work in a factory, but Owen's father has a slightly better position and according to Davidson "that simple class difference affects both boys."

The two boys are united, however, in their desire to leave Niagara Falls. Davidson sees the desire to leave your hometown as universal, but he also believes there's a universal need to come to terms with your roots. "Both of them come to the realization through the course of the novel that you are made by your hometown, your hometown becomes a part of you," he said, adding that you can't escape it any more than you're able to "escape your own DNA helix."




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