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The Porcupine's Quill, 2008 - Fiction - 188 pages

The stories in Evidence are a connected sequence of reminiscences, told out of chronological order, by a single narrator. Kostandin Bitri is a wanderer, uprooted by war from an unnamed eastern European country. As he moves first to Western Europe and then to North America looking for a place to live and an identity, he observes the societies he restlessly inhabits with an uneasy, distrustful eye. Sometimes seeking a foothold or an advantage, sometimes just passing though, he observes the ways people torment and use each other. He sees the worst impulses that humanity tolerates, not only in others but in himself.

He relates his experiences in random order as they might occur to him in an evening's conversation with a sympathetic but sometimes horrified listener. As an outsider, he observes corruption and banality, the dangers of ignorance in a brutal world, the need for caution and disguise. What he sees and describes amounts to a relentless deconstruction of power relationships: the power of the police over a terrorized population in an authoritarian state, of wealth over poverty in the bourgeois cultures of the West, of men over women, adults over children, of lies over truth. In his encounters with strangers he also sometimes meets with kindness, generosity and unselfishness, but they are rare, and as a person victimized and scarred by his past he cannot help finding such behaviour strange or naive.

In the final story he returns to his homeland to visit the last surviving member of his family, a distant cousin. Looking for the past, he finds a surprising, unrecognizable new reality.


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About the author (2008)

Ian Colford's first story was published in 1983 and he has subsequently had more than twenty pieces of fiction, reviews and essays published in a variety of periodicals. Travel to Greece, Portugal, Turkey and Italy have laid a foundation upon which much of his recent fiction is constructed. His work has won awards and has been nominated for the Journey Prize. He lives in Halifax and for the last twenty years has laboured at Dalhousie University.

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