Giller Prize

Mercy Among the Children

David Adams Richards

Mercy Among the Children

When Sydney pushes his friend Connie off a roof, he thinks he's killed him - and vows to God that he'll never harm anyone again if God keeps Connie alive. Connie lives, and Sydney keeps his word, but as he grows to adulthood, he and his family pay a heavy price for his extreme virtue. Set in the Miramichi region of New Brunswick, Mercy Among the Children is a morally complex story about the conflict between good and evil, and the choices we make.

Mercy Among the Children was the co-winner of the 2000 Scotiabank Giller Prize, alongside  Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje. It was a Canada Reads finalist in 2009, when it was defended by Sarah Slean. 


In November the lights shone after seven o'clock on the stained-glass windows. The windows show the crucifixion or one of the saints praying. The hills where those saints lived and dropped their blood look soft, distant and blue; the roads wind like purple ribbons toward the Mount of Olives. It is all so different from real nature with its roaring waters over valleys of harsh timber where I tore an inch and a half of skin from my calves. Or Miramichi bogs of cedar and tamarack and the pungent smell of wet moosehide as the wounded moose still bellows in dark wood. I often wanted to enter the world of the stained glass - to find myself walking along the purple road, with the Mount of Olives behind me. I suppose because I wanted to be good, and my mother wanted goodness for me. I wanted too to escape the obligation I had toward my own destiny, my family, my sister and brother who were more real to me than a herd of saints.

From Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards ©2000. Published by Anchor Canada.