Nova Scotia

Cape Breton couple to duke it out for same Atlantic Book Award

Sarah Faber and Oisín Curran are both nominated for the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award.

Sarah Faber, Oisín Curran each nominated for Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award

Oisín Curran and Sarah Faber are both nominated for the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award. (Norma Jean MacPhee/CBC)

Two Cape Breton writers say even though they're nominated for the same Atlantic Book Award, there's not much competition or trash talk between them.

That's because they're married.

Sarah Faber, author of All is Beauty Now, and Oisín Curran, author of Blood Fable, are both nominated for the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award.

The couple, who live in Southwest Margaree, N.S., didn't plan for their books to launch within the same month last fall, but due to delays, that's how it worked out.

"It was a fun surprise," said Faber.

Faber's All is Beauty Now is about an Anglo-Brazilian family living in Rio de Janeiro in the early 1960s. The family's eldest daughter goes missing — a crisis mingled with the father's struggle with bipolar disease.

Curran's Blood Fable is about an 11-year-old boy living in a Buddhist community in Maine in the 1980s. When his mother gets cancer, the young boy invents a story about his past life.

Oisín Curran's Blood Fable and Sarah Faber's All is Beauty Now are both nominated for the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award. (Norma Jean MacPhee)

Both Faber and Curran said they will be happy if either wins.

"Obviously I would be happy to get the prize, but I would be happy for him if it went that way," said Faber.

"Yeah, likewise," said Curran, adding that he feels Faber deserves the award. "I mean, I know that sounds kinda sappy, but she does because she worked so hard on the book. It'd be really cool if she wins."

They laugh at the prospect of the $25,000 prize money coming into their home.

"It helps that we'll share the money. Not that we will win, but that we could, potentially. It'll be great no matter what," said Faber.

Carol Bruneau also nominated

The third nominee for the prize is Carol Bruneau's novel A Bird on Every Tree.

Faber met Bruneau at the Cabot Trail Writers Festival last year.

"She's lovely, and we already had a little exchange and a congratulations in email," said Faber. "I know it sounds corny and insincere, but you can't really feel competitive with her because she's such a sweet person."

Balancing writing and family

Faber is also nominated for the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award Fiction category.

Faber and Curran share a home with their two children, ages five and seven. They take shifts writing while the other looks after the children and household chores.

"It took us a long time to write those books because we have two little kids and you have to work and survive," said Faber.

"Day to day and week by week we're kinda recalibrating how we're going to carve out the time to do what we need to do," said Curran.

They share an office in their home and agree it's helpful to have two writers under one roof.

"I said in my acknowledgments in my book that Oisín read as many drafts as I did," said Faber.

"Sarah is my first and last reader," said Curran. "And a very acute editor, so I'm really, really lucky."

Established in 1991, past winners of the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award include Douglas Arthur Brown, Donna Morrissey, David Adams Richards and Kathleen Winter.

Regardless of the outcome, Faber and Curran are just looking forward to a night away.

"It'll be a date night. And we've never been to a gala," said Faber.


From people around the corner to those around the world, Norma Jean MacPhee has more than a decade of experience telling their stories on the radio, TV and online. Reach Norma Jean at