Winner of the 2018 Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award
Maine, 1980. A utopian community is on the verge of collapse. The charismatic leader's authority teeters as his followers come to realize they've been exploited for too long. To make matters worse, the eleven-year-old son of one adherent learns that his mother has cancer.
Taking refuge in his imagination, the boy begins to speak of another time and place. His parents believe he is remembering his own life before birth. This memory, a story within the story of Blood Fable, is an epic tale about the search for a lost city refracted through the lens of the adventures the boy loves to read. But strangely, as the world around them falls apart, he and his parents find that his story seems to foretell the events unfolding in their present lives.
Praise for Blood Fable:
"A family drama, a fantastical voyage, and a poetic reflection on love, death and betrayal, this extraordinary coming-of-age novel exposes the difficult relationship between free-thought and blind faith, evasion and enlightenment. Oisín Curran's Blood Fable is an adventure for the heart and soul. " –Johanna Skibsrud, Scotiabank Giller Prize winning author of The Sentimentalists and Quartet for the End of Time
"This careful and loving rendering of a child's mind proves that acts of storytelling were once not so much vehicles for escape but instead crucial rehearsals for being. A remembrance of lost time – or maybe, to reference its Buddhist undergirding, an alaya-vijnana, a storehouse consciousness – Curran's vision of boyhood is perfect in details and sublimely moving. Blood Fable is a magnificent double take, which – like a bistable optical illusion (duck or rabbit?) – allows two universes to coexist. A rapturous adventure tale where the very essence of adventure is subverted so that fantasy and reality conflate; this is done not for temporary trickery but to deepen our comprehension of the real. " –Eugene Lim, author of Dear Cyborgs
"The dark magic in Blood Fable is just a story (within a story), but that somehow makes it more, and more truly, magical. It is a story about how stories are made, how they help and refuse to reflect our lives, as resonating versions of the world refracted through the prism of imagination. On almost every page something threw me gloriously off balance and I couldn't stop asking myself: how does Oisín Currin manage to write so consistently, compellingly, hauntingly well? I will reread this book. " –Jacob Wren, author of Rich and Poor and Polyamorous Love Song
"Blood Fable is, for me, a perfect book; it is the novel I always wish I were reading. In its twin stories – one of an eleven-year-old boy and his flawed, beloved parents and the other a wild tale of love, peril, and adventure across underground tunnels and seas – are all the wonder and terror of childhood, refracted by a luminous imagination. Through the wide eyes of a child, Curran plumbs the world of adults with compassion and acuity. Blood Fable is a quest, a question, a story of searching – for understanding, insight, heroes – and of failing, finding in their stead the imaginative mercy of love. This is a joy of a novel, glittering, wondrous, and strange. I remain in its thrall. " –Rebecca Silver Slayter, author of In the Land of Birdfishes
Oisín Curran grew up in rural Maine. He received a BA in Classics and an MFA in Creative Writing from Brown University (where he was the recipient of a national scholarship and a writing fellowship), and a diploma in Translation (French to English) from Concordia University. He is the author of Mopus (2008), and was named a "Writer to Watch" by CBC: Canada Writes. Curran lives in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, with his wife and two children.