Bear – 1976 novel

Bear is a novel by Canadian author Marian Engel, published in 1976. It won the Governor General’s Literary Award the same year. It is Engel’s fifth novel, and her most famous. The story tells of a lonely librarian in northern Ontario who enters into a sexual relationship with a bear. The book has been called “the most controversial novel ever written in Canada”.

The Canadian Encyclopedia notes that the book has been called “the most controversial novel ever written in Canada,” and the notoriety around its subject matter brought Engel to national attention for the first time. At its publication, the novel was mostly received well by critics. Engel’s writing craft was admired, with Globe and Mail noting her “fine use of understatement, control, and economy.” The book was received favorably outside of Canada as well; London’s Times Literary Supplement wrote a positive review. Exceptions included novelist and critic Scott Symons, who called the book “spiritual gangrene… a Faustian compact with the Devil.” The 1976 Governor General’s Literary Award jury, which included authors Margaret Laurence, Alice Munro, and Mordecai Richler awarded Bear its English-language Fiction award, one of the highest literary prizes in the country. [Via: wikipedia]

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