On the first page Fabian Vas, the bird artist, confesses to
murdering the lighthouse keeper. Fabian
is an engaging narrator, he keeps the reader engrossed as he fills in the
background of growing up in the windswept isolated fishing village in the early
1900’s. His talent for drawing birds is
apparent early in life. He falls in love with the wrong woman, or wrong by the
standards of his parents and community.
Margaret is headstrong and wild, a grand character for the reader to
enjoy. Norman uses his historical
setting and characters well; he spices up the tale with humor as he fills in
the background that brought the lighthouse keeper to destruction. Howard Norman is a true wordsmith well able
to craft an intricate, beautiful and moving story.
Howard Norman's The Bird Artist, the first book of his Canadian trilogy, begins in 1911. Its narrator, Fabian Vas is a bird artist: He draws and paints the birds of Witless Bay, his remote Newfoundland coastal village home. In the first paragraph of his tale Fabian reveals that he has murdered the village lighthouse keeper, Botho August. Later, he confesses who and what drove him to his crime--a measured, profoundly engrossing story of passion, betrayal, guilt, and redemption between men and women.
The Bird Artist is a 1994 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction.
About the Author
Howard Norman is the author of several novels—The Northern Lights, The Bird Artist, and The Museum Guard—and a story collection, The Chauffeur. He has twice been named as a finalist for the National Book Award. He lives with his family in Vermont and Washington D.C.
“A classic story . . . All that is splendid and spectacular in the book is simply light, magically employed to seek out what is real.” —Richard Eder, The Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Bewitching . . . glows like a night light in the reader's mind.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Completely original and compelling . . . written with great intelligence, wit and clarity.” —Anne Whitehouse, The Boston Sunday Globe
“[The Bird Artist] combines colorful backwoods eccentrics and gothic melodrama that strongly resembles the work of film director David Lynch.” —Edward B. St. John, Library Journal