The Collected Stories of Alistair MacLeod

Publisher: Emblem Editions
Alistair MacLeod has been hailed internationally as a master of the short story. Now MacLeod’s collected stories, including two never before published, are gathered together for the first time in Island. These sixteen superbly crafted stories, most of them firmly based in Cape Breton even if its people stray elsewhere, depict men and women living out their lives against the haunting landscape that surrounds them. Focusing on the complexities and abiding mysteries at the heart of human relationships, MacLeod maps the close bonds and impassable chasms that lie between man and woman, parent and child, and invokes memory and myth to celebrate the continuity of the generations, even in the midst of unremitting change. Eloquent, humane, powerful, and told in a voice at once elegiac and life-affirming, the stories in this astonishing collection seize us from the outset and remain with us long after the final page.


The Boat

There are times even now, when I awake at four o'clock in the morning with the terrible fear that I have overslept; when I imagine that my father is waiting for me in the room below the darkened stairs or that the shorebound men are tossing pebbles against my window while blowing their hands...
Read More


A. For discussion of "The Boat"

1.By the end of the story, does the narrator still feel that "it was very much braver to spend a life doing what you really do not want rather than selfishly following forever your own dreams and inclinations" [p. 21]?

B. For discussion of...

Read More


“Alistair MacLeod’s stories are as regional and universal as the work of Faulkner or Chekhov. And they are, I think, as permanent.”
–Michael Ondaatje

“Stunning.… The quality of the writing matches the very best in the world.… The stories are about us and here is that rare voice, a unique voice, to illuminate our experience.”
Edmonton Journal

“The book is a treasure.… These are stories well worth returning to, with layers to uncover gradually.… It doesn’t get any better than this.”
Toronto Star

“If you buy one book this year, let it be Island.… You will have in your possession not only some of the best short stories written in the twentieth century, but some of the best short stories ever written in the English language…These are universal stories for all time.”
Kitchener-Waterloo Record

“Every story is touched with the beauty and truth of genius”
Irish Times

“One of the finest masters of prose in the world…these short stories have established MacLeod as a writer whose every word is set in place with clean and enduring perfections.”

“These stories have slowly become famous for their control of tone and cadence and for MacLeod’s ability to handle pure, raw emotion…Neither contemporary trend nor modern ironies interest him. The genius of his stories is to render his fictional world as timeless.”
–Colm Tóibín

“MacLeod’s lyricism succeeds in leaving a reader both harrowed by and envious of all the sorrow, violence and ravenous love.”
-New York Times Book Review