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By Michael Crummey

“River Thieves is a remarkable achievement–part adventure tale, part meditation on place and history, wholly engaging. The storytelling is rich and strange in detail and incident, and the language is by turns stark and lush. This is powerful writing.”
-Charles Frazier, author of Cold Mountain

“Crummey has a sharp eye for detail and an often breathtaking lucidity of expression. . . .the overriding impression from this novel is of a remarkably gifted writer working with passion and imagination as he recreates the interplay of vanished human lives in a spectacularly inhuman environment.”
The Independent


Crummey_River Thieves

In a masterly debut, the award-winning poet and short-fiction writer Michael Crummey crafts a haunting novel set on the rugged coast of Newfoundland at the turn of the nineteenth century. Told in elegant, sensual prose, River Thieves is a richly imagined, historically provocative story about the British founding of Newfoundland in the early 19th century, and the colonists’ contact with the last remaining Beothuk people, as they faced extinction.

“A little-known historical atrocity–the extinction of the Beothuk (“Red”) Indians of central Newfoundland–becomes an authentic tragedy in this brilliantly constructed, immensely moving debut novel by an award-winning Canadian poet and short-story writer. . . .There’s a literary renaissance underway just north of us, and Crummey’s quite literally astonishing debut novel is one of the brightest jewels in its crown.”

“Michael Crummey’s River Thieves is a novel of exquisite craftsmanship and masterful artistry that should gain the broad attention it so richly deserves: a novel of intricately balanced storytelling and intriguing location but one also where the keen eye of a poet resides within the language. The writing is simple and beautiful, fully textured and gracefully rendered. Crummey has the rare ability to breathe his characters right off the page and into the reader’s mind, where they then lodge, living on well past the final page. River Thieves marks the emergence of a powerful, mature talent.”
-Jeffrey Lent, author of In the Fall

“Michael Crummey has created a book of extraordinary sweep and capacity. Its chronology is complex and involved….It is a profound and beautiful narrative, marshalled with a poet’s skill.”
The Sunday Herald

“This multi-faceted jewel of a book is probably the finest Canadian novel of the year. . . . River Thieves is the sort of novel that raises gooseflesh on the reader’s arms in its opening pages and doesn’t surrender them until well after the covers are closed.”
National Post

“It is a novel full of poetic metaphor and memorable images. The language and phrases of the time are richly used, and through meticulous detail it manages to breathe life into past ways. Most of all, it creates a vivid portrait of Newfoundland of another era.”
The Globe and Mail

“A stunningly polished and powerful book…Crummey’s craftsmanship is masterful.”

“River Thieves is a wonderful novel and Michael Crummey is a writer of enormous talent…Michael Crummey writers like an old pro and, not so incidentally, also like an old soul, who has borne witness to tragic tendencies of humans for generations, and views them with awe and sadness and a clear-eyed compassion.”
Ottawa Citizen

“A rip-roaring adventure tale if ever there was one…An exceptionally accomplished work of historical fiction that revels in the art of storytelling….River Thieves is an auspicious debut for Crummey. His next novel can’t come soon enough.”
Calgary Herald

“A haunting novel…An engrossing and complex story that feels as authentic as a contemporary eyewitness account.”
Elle Canada

“This is a splendid novel reflective of a particular place and time. Michael Crummey is a tremendously gifted writer.”
-Alistair MacLeod, author of No Great Mischief

“Like David Adams Richards…Crummey favours the minimalist stroke, the revealing detail relied upon to spill its magic gracefully, with tremendous emotional and psychological impact.”
Toronto Star

“In the tradition of such contemporary classics as Cold Mountain and In The Fall, this beautifully-written novel is both a stunning adventure story and a profound saga of courage and idealism in an imperfect world…The last of the Beothuks died 175 years ago. But thanks to Michael Crummey, they live on in River Thieves, a novel of great wisdom, great power, and great heart.”
-Howard Frank Mosher, author of A Stranger in the Kingdom and North Country

“Vibrantly written and uniquely evocative.”
Denver Post

“Thanks to Michael Crummey, River Thieves presents a vivid and perceptive historical panorama. This Newfoundland poet’s prose is gorgeously sculpted, never precious, always alive to the mysteries of human experience.”

“River Thieves is another demonstration of the recent surge of good literary fiction from Canada … Crummey’s simple but powerful way with words and landscape turn this debut into a fine evocation of the rugged frontier world in the early 1800s.”
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“[Crummey’s] story seeps into a reader’s consciousness and lodges there, to be remembered long after the last page is turned.”
The Washington Post

“The book is intricate without being complicated and is almost a tour de force of coming into being, of materialization. This is Crummey’s first novel and a most ambitious project, but he pulls it off with formidable narrative muscle and control, as well as real empathy and imagination.”
The Boston Globe

“Crummey’s writing is as tight as drumskin, the beat of his prose strong and as deep as the ages.”
Glasgow Herald


Doubleday, Canada, September 2001

Houghton Mifflin, US, 2002

Canongate, UK, 2002

Payot & Rivages, France, 2004

De Geus, The Netherlands, 2002

Wiatr od Morza, Poland, 2016


Winner of the Winterset Award for Excellence in Newfoundland Writing

Winner of the Atlantic Fiction Award

Nominated for the Giller Prize (2001)

Nominated for the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize

Nominated for the IMPAC Dublin Award

Nominated for the Books in Canada/ First Novel Award

Other Books by Michael Crummey