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Biography & Autobiography Literary

The Lost Coast

Salmon, Memory and the Death of Wild Culture

by (author) Tim Bowling

Nightwood Editions
Initial publish date
Sep 2007
Literary, Personal Memoirs
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2007
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 15
  • Grade: 10


Somewhere between joyous affirmation of British Columbia's splendour and momentous grief for the destruction of a once thriving salmon culture comes the newest work from acclaimed poet and novelist Tim Bowling. The Lost Coast is a lyrical, impassioned lament for the home Bowling once knew and for the river and creatures that continue to haunt his imagination.

Raised in Ladner, BC, by a gillnetting family, Bowling was a fisherman himself until the mid-1990s. The loss of the West Coast's salmon culture is felt deeply by Bowling; this is a betrayal of his birthright and a decimation of his children's heritage. The Lost Coast asks hard questions of politicians, fishermen, fish farmers, industrialists and of the three million people currently inhabiting Greater Vancouver. What is the story behind the pioneers who built this province? What is the secret life of the killer whale and the great blue heron? And above all else, who caused, and continues to hasten, the diminishment of the Pacific salmon, British Columbia's most totemic creature?

With a poet's attention to details of the spirit, and a novelist's flair for character and story, Tim Bowling elevates his cherished homeland to the realm of enduring myth.

About the author

Tim Bowling has published numerous poetry collections, including Low Water Slack; Dying Scarlet (winner of the 1998 Stephan G. Stephansson Award for poetry); Darkness and Silence (winner of the Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry); The Witness Ghost; and The Memory Orchard (both nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award). He is also the author of three novels, Downriver Drift (Harbour), The Paperboy's Winter (Penguin) and The Bone Sharps (Gaspereau Press). His first book of non-fiction, The Lost Coast: Salmon, Memory and the Death of Wild Culture (Nightwood Editions), was shortlisted for three literary awards: The Writers' Trust Nereus Non-Fiction Award, the BC Book Prizes' Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize and the Alberta Literary Awards' Wilfred Eggleston Award for Non-Fiction. The Lost Coast was also chosen as a 2008 Kiriyama Prize "Notable Book." Bowling is the recipient of the Petra Kenney International Poetry Prize, the National Poetry Award and the Orillia International Poetry Prize. Bowling was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2008. A native of the West Coast, he now lives in Edmonton Alberta. His latest collection of poetry is Tenderman (Nightwood), due out in fall 2011.

Tim Bowling's profile page


  • Winner, Alberta Literary Awards--Wilfred Eggleston Award for Non-Fiction
  • Short-listed, The Writers' Trust Nereus Non-Fiction Prize
  • Commended, A Kiriyama Prize "Notable Book"
  • Short-listed, BC Book Prizes--Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize
  • Commended, British Columbia Award for Canadian Non-Fiction Longlist

Editorial Reviews

"One of the strongest aspects of the book, in my opinion, is Bowling's modulation of his often sentimental tone with a reluctance to view environmental crisis as a solely contemporary phenomenom. ... Bowling's vision, forcefully expressed, is compelling even as an individual response to ecological change."
--"Nicholas Bradley," Canadian Literature

Canadian Literature

"Tim Bowling is one of Canada's greatest living poets. He's also a novelist and an accomplished storyteller with a gift for vivid imagery ... Bowling enjoys something of an advantage over historians, journalists, ecologists and anthropologists. Which is why The Lost Coast is important ... There's a lovely magical realism about The Lost Coast. Killer whales glide in and out of it, the night is always as dark as blackberries, and the characters and wharf rats loom so much larger than life."
--Terry Glavin, The Globe and Mail

"Tim Bowling is a powerful writer, and this meditation on his childhood home and its salmon fishery is written from a deep well of emotion."
--Bob Armstrong, Winnipeg Free Press

" exceptionally fine depiction of a vanishing way of life...The Lost Coast is an excellent memoir."
--Steve Noyes, Vancouver Sun,

"Lyrical, thought-provoking writing."
--Annie Boulanger, Burnaby Now

"Both a lyrical lament for the changing environment and a celebration of life."
--"Editor's Picks," Shared-Vision

"It's the best prose [Bowling] has written."
--Edgar Dunning, The Delta Optimist

Praise for <i>The Lost Coast</i>

"Bowling's Lost Coast is an angry, informed, and loving lament for a way of life and a place that is gone."
--Bill Robertson, The Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Saskatoon StarPhoenix

"For [Bowling], the salmon are gods and the Fraser takes on dimensions that make it confluent with the Styx, Thames, Congo and Lethe. There is always something vital at stake in Bowling's work, and rarely do the trivia of modern writers' preoccupations seep in.... [T]his book... is a work of transcendent beauty and anger - and somewhat surprisingly, it is also a work of hope.

"Bowling... offers glimpses into his own present-day existence -- car-free, TV-free, independent -- as a simple example of how one might go about restaking a claim to wildness and severing ties to the massing forces of infinite economic expansion. The more of us who follow his counsel and ways, the better off we'll be."
--Zachariah Wells, Vancouver Review

Vancouver Review

Librarian Reviews

The Lost Coast: Salmon, Memory and the Death of Wild Culture

This poetic memoir and elegy is a reflection on family, personal history and the gradual, almost unnoticed losses that progress consents to. Recalling his childhood in Ladner on the south arm of the Fraser River, and the way his family was bound to the returning salmon and lowlands of the delta, Bowling paints both a lament for what is gone and a celebration of what he experienced. His recollections of events and descriptions of characters will stay with the reader as long as they have stayed with the writer. This gentle but fierce glimpse at BC’s idiosyncratic history, geography, politics and economy exposes what the contemporary world has taken away.

Bowling was nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry for both The Witness Ghost and The Memory Orchard.

Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. BC Books for BC Schools. 2008-2009.

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