Set in a coal-mining community in southern Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass, this novel evokes elements of the fantastic which exist in the land itself, particularly in the gassy, bituminous coal-mines found in the Pass. While one might expect a mine’s roof to fall, it is in fact the floor that continually heaves up under a miner’s boots. The methane that seeps from the rock and circulates throughout a coal-mine creates this magic, able to soften coal or induce sleep and incite dreams. The mine’s gas-marbled darkness and a story about a woman from southern Italy longing to escape the Pass bring about a fantastic/mythological suggestion that washes the reader of her tale right back to its beginning.
About the author
Peter Oliva‘s great-grandfather, grandfather and father were all coalminers in Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass. Oliva has worked in Italy, Taiwan, and Japan, teaching English and writing freelance articles for a variety of newspapers. His short stories have appeared in The Calgary Herald, Sunday Magazine, Vox, Alberta Rebound, and the Anthology of Alberta Writing. He lives in Calgary.
- Commended, <i>Edmonton Journal</i> Books of the Year
- Commended, <i>Globe and Mail</i> Best Books of the Year
“Grab for your imagination. Like the methane gas that robs coal-miners of their lives, Drowning in Darkness will take your breath away … It plunges us into the coal-mining community of the Pass. It is the raw material of the Pass and its people Oliva has taken and worked, shaped and squeezed into this beautiful gem of a book.”
“Beautifully written and conceived. a literary nocturne: dreamy, lush, and pensive.”
Quill and Quire
“A marvellous story, layered like the earth. Peter Oliva has written an extraordinary first novel. Exquisitely shaped and perfectly controlled, it establishes a tiny corner of Canada – a coal-mining town in the Crowsnest Pass – as a magical world where myth, legend and momentous heartbreak hang in the air and haunt the inhabitants … Drowning in Darkness takes the reader on a startling leap of imagination.”
The Globe and Mail