Colin McAdam's work has been met with great critical acclaim. His debut novel Some Great Thing
was nominated for a Governor General's award and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. His second novel Fall
was shortlisted for the Giller. In his latest novel, A Beautiful Truth
, Colin McAdam explores the humanity of animals and the animal nature of humans.
The novel begins in the early 1970's. Judy and Walt Ribke live in their big, rambling home, surrounded by the beauty of Vermont's rolling mountains. They seem to love each other unequivocally, but there's a gap in their lives, and it's deepening as the years pass. They can't have children, which is particularly devastating for Judy. Walt's desperate not to watch his wife's eyes grow any sadder, so one day he surprises her with baby Looee.
Looee's an orphan from Sierra Leone, and the moment he sees Judy he clings to her. They bond immediately and Walt and Judy come to love Looee like their son, although some of their friends and others in their community disapprove of their decision to adopt him.
Looee adapts well to his new life. He learns quickly, and grows into a strong, affectionate, often wild teenager. He tears the house apart, drinks beer, and likes to go fishing. He's also innately unpredictable. Oh yes, and by the way Looee is a chimpanzee.
This is the situation that unfolds in A Beautiful Truth, and the novel is told from the perspective of both humans and chimpanzees.
Shelagh and Colin had a fascinating conversation about A Beautiful Truth and what Colin argues is the uncanny, somewhat eerie, and manifold parallel between humans and apes. We hope you enjoy this extended version of their conversation.