How Emma Hooper balanced grit & whimsy while writing a novel set on Canada's East Coast
This interview originally aired on Jan. 28, 2019.
Emma Hooper is an Alberta-born musician, novelist and lecturer. Her latest novel, Our Homesick Songs, is about a 10-year-old boy named Finn who clings to his hometown in Newfoundland amid the collapse of the local cod industry. It was on the longlist for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize. The novel carefully balances a tone between grit and whimsy.
East Coast connection
"I grew up in Alberta and was 11 when the collapse of the cod fisheries happened. All of these people from out east started coming to where I was in Edmonton. For me at the time, I didn't realize that there was all this stuff going on the other side of the country. It was just exciting, booming times in Alberta. It wasn't until later when I was a bit older that I realized that a balance — a bust to our boom — was going on in a different part of Canada."
Come from away
"I tried hard to do lots of research, to do justice to the place and the culture and the people. I'm not from Newfoundland. I never will be. But a theme that I am hoping to explore in the book is this idea that we all 'come from away.' People from Newfoundland have all come from Ireland, England or Scotland or wherever and then come out west to work in the energy industry. We've all come from places throughout our history, whether it's our own history or our ancestral history."
Emma Hooper's comments have been edited for length and clarity.