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Clara Callan

Richard B. Wright's novel won the Giller Prize and the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction in 2001.

Richard B. Wright

Clara Callan is set in the middle of the Great Depression, chronicling the lives of two sisters. Clara is a spinsterish schoolteacher whose quiet life in a small Ontario town masks a passion for love and adventure. Nora, her flighty and very pretty sister, travels to New York where she lands a starring role in a radio soap opera. (From HarperCollins)

In 2001, Clara Callan won the Giller Prize and the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction.

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From the book

Saturday, November 3 (8:10 p.m.)

Nora left for New York City today. I think she is taking a terrible chance going all the way down there but, of course, she wouldn't listen. You can't tell Nora anything. You never could. Then came the last-minute jitters. Tears in that huge station among strangers and loudspeaker announcements.

"I'm going to miss you, Clara."

"Yes. Well, and I'll miss you too, Nora. Do be careful down there!"

"You think I'm making a mistake, don't you? I can see it in your face."

"We've talked about this many times, Nora. You know how I feel about all this."

"You must promise to write."

"Well, of course, I'll write." The handkerchief, smelling faintly of violets, pressed to an eye. Father used to say that Nora's entire life was a performance. Perhaps she will make something of herself down there in the radio business, but it's just as likely she'll return after Christmas. And then what will she do? I'm sure they won't take her back at the store. It's a foolish time to be taking chances like this. A final wave and a gallant little smile. But she did look pretty and someone on the train will listen. Someone is probably listening at this very moment.


From Clara Callan by Richard B. Wright ©2001. Published by HarperCollins

Author interviews

Listen to Wright speak with Shelagh Rogers. 20:15
The author of "Nightfall" and numerous other novels on what he'd like to change about himself, why he doesn't dwell on regrets, and more. 5:08

More about this book