Author(s): Michael Crummey

Fiction - Contemporary

For twelve generations, the inhabitants of a remote island in Newfoundland have lived and died together. Now, in the second decade of the 21st century, they are facing resettlement. They have each been offered a generous compensation package to leave the island for good. There's just one proviso: everyone must go. Gradually, all of the residents surrender to the inevitable. All of the residents, that is, but one: old Moses Sweetland. Motivated in part by a sense of history and belonging, and concerned that his somewhat eccentric great-nephew will wilt on the mainland, Moses resists the coercion of family and friends in order to hold onto the only place he's ever called home. As his options dwindle, Moses Sweetland concocts a scheme to remain the island's only living resident. Cut off from the outside world, with the food supply diminishing and weather shredding away the last evidence of human habitation, Sweetland finds himself, finally, in the company of ghosts ...Written with incomparable emotional power and depth, Sweetland is a story about loyalty and courage, about the human will to persist even when all hope seems lost.

Sweetland by Michael Crummey is a beautiful novel. Set on a remote Newfoundland island, it is a story about a man who will not leave. The small community is about to be relocated to the mainland – the island is no longer feasible and the authorities are offering everyone a good deal to move away. Moses Sweetland’s family have been there for generations and any other life is implausible for him. This is a stunning exploration of a man’s life, his relationship with his land and the surrounding sea, and his desire for things to remain the same; an exploration of small communities, their quirks and their problems; the secrets and betrayals that can rock the foundations of all that live there; and their close-knit relationships that keeps them going as well as tearing them apart. Crummey writes with clear insight about the physical and emotional landscapes. A definite for your reading pile. - Stella

Sweetland is a remote Island of the coast of Newfoundland. Its rugged landscape is home to a small community of permanent residents, who eek out a living from the sea. The government has offered the 65 residents of Sweetland repatriation on the mainland, which comes with a substantial financial remuneration. Moses Sweetland was born on the Island and is part of its landscape. Slowly his life is revealed, the harshness of the environment and how it has shaped him and the people around him. He is determined to stay on the Island, which is an integral part of his identity. - Sweetland


The township of Sweetland, situated on a remote Newfoundland island is under threat of ‘closure’.  Its remaining inhabitants have the opportunity to be paid out by the Government for relocating as the diminishing population, lack of facilities, distance from the mainland make it impossible for the township to remain viable. The catch is that everyone must sign up for the Government package. If one person holds out, then the entire offer will be withdrawn. And of course there is one person who refuses to bend to the will of his community: Moses Sweetland, descendant of the town’s founders, digs in, and the rest of the community becomes restless. The novel shifts between past and present, and Moses’ back story gradually unfolds as he moves around his island home setting rabbit traps, looking at the lighthouse he used to keep until he was replaced by automation, fishing for the allowed number of cod, fetching in enough firewood to last a life time, and mainly at odds with the remaining community. To say much more would spoil the reading of this wonderful book, which is, in turn, lyrical, sorrowful and joyful. I have never read Crummey before, but see he has a good list of both fiction and poetry, often centered on the history and landscape of Newfoundland and Labrador. If you enjoyed Annie Proulx’s Shipping News you will be enchanted by Sweetland. - Marie

late contender for my ‘book of the year’: a beautiful, haunting novel set on a remote island off the Newfoundland Coast. Moses Sweetland is 70 and has lived on "his" island all his life, his family for generations, but now the Canadian government want to move the residents of the island to the mainland, and Moses is the lone hold-out. Although Sweetland is a loner at heart, his relationship with the island, his heritage and his grandson all serve to keep him tied to his homeland. But can he mentally and physically survive the isolation? A stunning novel of place, belonging and loss. - Lucy

Product Information

An unforgettable novel, by turns darkly comic and heartbreakingly sad,Sweetland is a deeply suspenseful story about one man's struggles against the forces of nature and the ruins of memory, from the award-winning author of Galore.

Michael Crummey is an award-winning author of memoir, poetry, short stories, and three previous novels. His third novel Galore won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Canada and the Caribbean) and was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award. He lives in St. John's, Newfoundland.

General Fields

  • : 9781472118882
  • : Little, Brown Book Group
  • : Corsair
  • : January 2015
  • : 23.40 cmmm X 15.30 cmmm X 2.00 cmmm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : April 2015
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Paperback
  • : 415
  • : en
  • : 256
  • : Michael Crummey