A primitive story of transgression and transformation weaves its way through the centuries and cultures into the lives and conflicts and personal dramas of our own time. Seán Virgo traces its journey and the guises it takes on, reinventing itself as fable, fairy tale, ghost story, and fantasy — spellbinding entertainments that engage all the same with conundrums of warfare, colonialism, religion, art, and human fidelity. The Dibidalen of the title story is a remote northern valley where, in ancestral times, a man took a wife who was less and more than human; where a boy was abducted and dragged down the shaman’s path; where a hunter was punished for a crime he could not understand.Centuries later, a young Nazi officer in the army of occupation collects a “quaint fairy tale” from two old peasant women, the last speakers of a forgotten language. It is a gift for his uncle back home, a Lutheran pastor with a taste for philology. Locked up for years in an Austrian archive, the story escapes and touches the lives of two young couples and a child, as it makes its way home to the warm, fragile heart of an ancient garden.
ISBN: 9781927068335 Categories: Fiction, Short Stories (single author) Tags: Canadian writer, fable, folktales, literary
About the Author
Seán Virgo was born in Malta, and grew up in South Africa, Malaya, Ireland and the U.K. He immigrated to Canada in 1966 and became a citizen in 1972. He has lived on Haida Gwaii, Newfoundland, various Gulf Islands, the Bruce Peninsula and for a decade in Southwest Saskatchewan. Virgo has published a number of works of both poetry and fiction, most recently, A Traveller Came By (2000); nonagon fugue ( 2007); and, Begging Questions (2007). He has read his work around the world, and has worked as a writing teacher, actor, and television host.
‘It’s a joy to see a fiction writer deploying his imaginative powers to the full in an age when given the dominance of fact the imagination itself is under suspicion.’ – National Post
‘Seán Virgo is a wonderful writer.’ – Globe & Mail
‘One of the best in Canada … what continues to astonish about Seán Virgo is his incredible virtuosity.’ –Toronto Star
‘A gift for language … forceful yet understated, the sure mark of a talented artist.’ – Times Literary Supplement
‘He brings the meticulous richness of poetry to his prose … vibrant with a subtle eroticism.’ – Maclean’s Magazine
‘Shattering intensity … haunting, beautiful, intense, absorbing … very sensual.’ – Books In Canada
‘A superb confidence … monstrously ambitious … [a visceral, erotic sense of language.’ – Saturday Night
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