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list price: $22.00
edition:Paperback
category: Fiction
published: Jun 2007
ISBN:9780676978162
publisher: Knopf Canada
imprint: Vintage Canada

The Custodian of Paradise

by Wayne Johnston

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literary, historical, 20th century
5 of 5
1 rating
rated!
rated!
list price: $22.00
edition:Paperback
category: Fiction
published: Jun 2007
ISBN:9780676978162
publisher: Knopf Canada
imprint: Vintage Canada
Description

Wayne Johnston was born and raised in the St. John's area of Newfoundland. His #1 nationally bestselling novels include The Custodian of Paradise, The Navigator of New York and The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, which was an international bestseller and will be made into a film. Johnston is also the author of an award-winning and bestselling memoir, Baltimore's Mansion. He lives in Toronto.

Contributor Notes

Wayne Johnston was born in Newfoundland in 1958 and grew up in Goulds, a small community a few miles south of St. John’s. When he was a boy, he couldn’t imagine a world beyond the island. "The only outside world I ever saw was on television, and I didn’t really even believe that world existed." At the time, people were still divided over entering Confederation with Canada, which had happened only in 1949. His family had a habit of moving around to different neighbourhoods and his schooling was "hyper-Catholic," elements that would feature in his autobiographical first novel.

He graduated with a B.A. (Honours) in English from Memorial University of Newfoundland, and worked from 1979 to 1981 as a reporter at the St. John’s Daily News. Being a reporter was a crash course in how society works, but Johnston realized he didn’t want it as a career. "I’m not that outgoing of a person and you have to be in order to be a good reporter." He moved away from Newfoundland, first to Ottawa, and took up the writing of fiction full-time. In 1983 he graduated with an M.A. from the University of New Brunswick. His first book, The Story of Bobby O’Malley, was published shortly after, and won the W.H. Smith/Books in Canada First Novel Award. He followed this success two years later with The Time of Their Lives, which won the Canadian Authors Association’s award for most promising young writer.

Johnston’s third novel, The Divine Ryans, again a portrait of Irish Catholic Newfoundland, centres on a nine-year-old hockey fanatic whose father dies and whose family goes to live with relatives who once had money but are fast declining. One of Johnston’s most comic novels, it earned him the title of "the Roddy Doyle of Canada." The Divine Ryans won the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize and has been adapted into a film starring Pete Postlethwaite. Johnston wrote the screenplay, as well as one for the adaptation of his next novel, Human Amusements. Published in 2002, Johnston’s first novel to be set outside of Newfoundland is a send-up of television’s early days and follows Audrey Prendergast, whose love for her family blinds her to all else and who sees the new medium of television as the only means of climbing the social ladder.

The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, Johnston’s fifth novel, was shortlisted in 1998 for the most prestigious fiction awards in Canada, the Governor General’s Award and the Giller Prize, the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize; it won the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize and the Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction. It has been called a "Dickensian romp of a novel," and charts the career of Newfoundland’s first premier to create a love story and a tragicomic elegy to an impossible country. The novel has been published across North America and Europe and in several languages.

In 1999 Johnston published Baltimore’s Mansion, his first non-fiction book, a family memoir that also became a national bestseller and won the inaugural Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction. Johnston uses the stories of his own childhood and those of his father and grandfather to cast light on Newfoundland’s struggle over relinquishing independence in 1949. A National Post reviewer concluded that it was a "non-fiction novel," drawing on all Johnston’s narrative powers to "shape the materials of real life into a work of astonishing beauty and power." A reviewer in Quill & Quire commented, "I began to smell the smells, hear the lilt, and experience a sense of the fierce attachment Newfoundlanders feel to their home province no matter where they live."

Johnston has lived in Toronto since 1989, although most of his writing continues to centre on Newfoundland. “I couldn’t write about the island while I was there,” he says. "Life was too immediate. I was too inundated by the place and its details. I’d write about something and see it when I walked across the street the next day." To write with any kind of objectivity, he continues, "I need distance to get that sense of what is important and what is significant and what is not."

Awards
  • Short-listed, Trillium Book Award
  • , Scotiabank Giller Prize
Editorial Review

“Epic artistry, an opportunity to witness a writer’s development and a second chance for readers to get what they wanted from The Colony of Unrequited Dreams.”
The Vancouver Sun

“Fielding is a truly unforgettable character.”
–Edmonton Journal

“[Johnston is] a literary giant who has god-given talent.”
–Will Ferguson, The Globe and Mail

“Why I love reading Wayne Johnston: The reader goes skittering through Wayne Johnston’s novels, driven inexorably forward on the force of his characters, on the power of his wit.”
–Mary Walsh

“The book moves because of Sheilagh’s passion and brilliance, and that is why Johnston has, against all probability, written a follow-up book that manages to outshine the original.”
National Post

Praise for Wayne Johnston:

“Wayne Johnston is prodigiously talented.”
The Globe and Mail

“Wayne Johnston is a brilliant and accomplished writer and his Newfoundland – boots and boats, rough politics and rough country, history and journalism – is vivid and sharp.”
–Annie Proulx

“Unlike most recent bestselling novels that are remembered for the plane flight and then promptly forgotten, Wayne’s stories have characters who move in and take up permanent residence.”
–Mary Walsh

“[Johnston is] a literary giant who has god-given talent.”
–Will Ferguson, The Globe and Mail

“His books are beautifully written, among the funniest I’ve ever read, yet somehow at the same time among the most poignant and moving.”
–Annie Dillard

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