Howard A. Norman, is an American award-winning writer and educator. Most of his short stories and novels are set in Canada's Maritime Provinces. He has written several translations of Algonquin, Cree, and Inuit folklore. His books have been translated into 12 languages.
Howard Norman is a three-time winner of National Endowment for the Arts fellowships and a winner of the Lannan Award for fiction. His 1987 novel, The Northern Lights, was nominated for a National Book Award, as was his 1994 novel The Bird Artist.
Norman teaches in the MFA program at the University of Maryland. He lives in Washington, D.C., and Vermont with his wife and daughter.
Norman worked on a fire crew with Cree Indians after dropping out of High School. It is during this time that he became fascinated with their folkstories and culture and spent the next sixteen years living and writing in Canada's Hudson Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Greenland.
He also received his high school equivalency diploma, and then studied at Western Michigan University Honors College, receiving Bachelor of Arts degrees in zoology and English. He then earned a Masters of Arts degree from the Folklore Institute of Indiana University.
This biography was last updated on 07/28/2014.
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Howard Norman Talks About Literary Imagination
May include plot spoilers
You were born in Michigan, you live in Vermont, yet most of your books are set in Nova Scotia. Why does it resonate with you?
I think that's something that I've started to ask myself. I'm 61--it seems you would come to such knowledge earlier. Let me try to basically address this, though. Nova Scotia, for all the frequent extended periods I've lived there, is obviously central to my literary imagination. Yet writing about it requires a displacement of imagination, because I generally write my novels in Vermont. And that geographical distance affords me the opportunity to calibrate the right narrative distance for my novels. Or at least I try for that. Once the basic research ends, I go to Vermont and begin to channel Nova Scotia. It's like a geographical séance, I suppose, to put it simply.
To me the Canadian Maritimes is a very compelling region; it's tragic, it's melancholy; it has a long history with the sea; it's elegiac. In the cemeteries, there are so many graves that are empty because the people were lost at sea. I'm comfortable with the disturbing paradoxes and haunting qualities of the area. I'd...
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