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The Shipping News

The Shipping News
cover to a recent paperback edition
Author E. Annie Proulx
Country United States
Language English
Genre Novel
Publisher Scribner
Publication date
Media type Print (hardcover & paperback)
ISBN ISBN 0-684-19337-X (first edition, hard)
OCLC 26502801
813/.54 20
LC Class PS3566.R697 S4 1993

The Shipping News is a novel by American author E. Annie Proulx, published by Charles Scribner's Sons in 1993. It won both the Pulitzer Prize[1] and the U.S. National Book Award, as well as other awards.[2] It was adapted as a film of the same name, released in 2001.


  • Plot summary 1
  • Ashley's influence 2
  • Awards 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Plot summary

The story centers on Quoyle, a newspaper pressroom worker from upstate New York whose father had emigrated from Newfoundland. Shortly after his parents' joint suicide, Quoyle's unfaithful and abusive wife Petal leaves town and attempts to sell their daughters Bunny and Sunshine to sex traffickers. Soon thereafter, Petal and her lover are killed in a car accident; the young girls are located by police and returned to Quoyle. Despite the safe return of his daughters, Quoyle's life is collapsing. His paternal aunt, Agnis Hamm, convinces him to make a new beginning by returning to their ancestral home in Newfoundland.

In Newfoundland, they move into Agnis's childhood home, an empty house on Quoyle's Point. Quoyle finds work as a reporter for the Gammy Bird, the local newspaper in Killick-Claw, a small town. The Gammy Bird's editor asks him to cover traffic accidents (reminding him of Petal's fate) and also the shipping news, documenting the arrivals and departures of ships from the local port. This develops as Quoyle's signature column.

Over time, Quoyle learns deep and disturbing secrets about his ancestors that emerge in strange ways. As Quoyle builds his new life in Newfoundland, he is transformed. He creates a rewarding job, makes friends, and begins a relationship with a local woman, Wavey Prowse.

Ashley's influence

In her acknowledgments, Proulx states, "And without the inspiration of Clifford W. Ashley's wonderful 1944 work, The Ashley Book of Knots, which I had the good fortune to find at a yard sale for a quarter, this book would have remained just a thread of an idea." Ashley's illustrations and quotes are used as chapter headings throughout the book. Some names in the book are taken from knots, for example "Killick hitch" and coil. This coil is called a "quoyle," the protagonist's name, a coil of rope only one layer thick, flat, "so that it may be walked on ..." This metaphor sums up Quoyle's relationship with the world around him in the novel's first half.



  1. ^ a b "Fiction". Past winners & finalists by category. The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2012-03-28.
  2. ^ a b "National Book Awards – 2003". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-28.
    (With acceptance speech by Proulx and introduction by nonfiction panelist Jonathan Kirsch.)

External links

Preceded by
All the Pretty Horses
Cormac McCarthy
National Book Award for Fiction
Succeeded by
A Frolic of His Own
William Gaddis
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