A tenderman is a crew member of a fishing vessel, a fisherman, someone who hauls live fish to the shore every day. In The Dark Set, the Tenderman is a character from another time, a worker in a lost resource culture, who is both a breathing artifact of a rough-edged, wilder past and a representative of uncomfortable human traits that rise out of ignorance and a failure of empathy. A fiercely independent everyman, the Tenderman is Bowling's way of wrestling with his own conflicted feelings about masculinity, history, citizenship and power. The division between the poet and the tenderman is wide, but he is a kind of shadow brother, a solitary visitor from a world North America repeatedly tries, and fails, to leave behind.
Tim Bowling's nineteen books have been shortlisted for major national prizes in fiction (the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize for The Tinsmith in 2012), non-fiction (the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize) and poetry (the Governor General's Award and Canadian Authors Association Award), and in 2008 the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awarded Bowling a fellowship recognizing his entire body of work. His writing has also been nominated twelve times for the Alberta Literary Awards and nine times for the City of Edmonton Book Prize. He currently lives in Edmonton, Alberta.