With his new novel Hummingbird out in hardback this month, Tristan Hughes is our Author of the Month for May 2017.
Hughes has published various novels, three of which are set on Anglesey, Wales: The Tower (2004), Send My Cold Bones Home (2006) and Revenant (2008), each reflecting his interest in the landscape and history of the island. His fourth, Eye Lake (2012) turns attentions to northern Ontario. In his latest novel, Hummingbird (2017), Hughes braves through the Canadian wilderness: familiarising the landscape of his youth in a poetic coming-of-age story about death, life, and the changes they bring.
'Hughes's rapt and rhythmic prose captures all the secretive intensity of an "entire compacted country": not just this island of saints and sinners off the north Welsh coast, but youth itself.' – The Independent
– Financial Times
Hughes was born in Atikokan, a small town in northern Ontario, Canada, where he lived for four years before moving to Anglesey (or Ynys Mon in Welsh), an island off the coast of north Wales. He was educated at Ysgol David Hughes, and went on to study literature at the universities of York and Edinburgh, and King's College, Cambridge, where he completed a PhD on Herman Melville’s South Sea writings. He has taught courses on American literature and creative writing at Cambridge, Leipzig, Bangor and Cardiff.
Hummingbird tells the story of a fifteen-year-old Zachary Taylor and his father, who are living in a cabin on Sitting Down Lake, having moved there from the small town of Crooked Elbow in northern Ontario after the death of Zack’s mother. Besides his absent-minded father and his neighbours - the usually drunk Oskar, the secretly messy Mrs Schneider, her recently divorced daughter Judith, and the taciturn Lamar – all Zach has for company is the moody, transient landscape, which holds both beauty and terror in its depths and whispers with the promise of dark, secret spaces and undiscovered worlds.
Things are shaken up by the arrival of Lamar’s mysterious niece, Eva, who has come to see the location where her parents died in a plane crash not far from the lake. While trying to navigate between the different worlds of summer and winter, the living and the dead, and the past and the present, Zack and Eva grow closer. The people of Sitting Down Lake will have to rely on each other to come to terms with the past to realise that death is never final: something always remains afterwards.
Hughes also writes short stories and is a winner of the Rhys Davies short story prize.
He currently lives in Cardiff, where he is the AHRC Fellow in Creative Writing at Cardiff University. Outside of writing, Tristan is an often unlucky fisherman and a cricket player of declining powers.