Margaret Craven Jennifer Farley Smith - Essay

Jennifer Farley Smith

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

A small fishing village on the edge of the Canadian wilderness is the stage for ["I Heard the Owl Call My Name," a] shining parable about the reconciliation of two cultures and two faiths.

When 27-year-old Mark Brian arrives in the Indian village of Kingcombe to take up his first ministry, he enters a world poised between the ways of the ancestral Cedar-man and those of a Christian God. He quickly takes the measure of their way of life: an enduring harmony with nature, the diminishing vitality of their traditions as they cope with the present. He shares in the tragedies which inevitably occur when white man's civilization makes claims upon the Kwakiutls' small society….

Margaret Craven … has written a memorable first novel, one which is proving to be the sleeper of this season. Her writing glows with delicate, fleeting images and a sense of peace. Her characters' hearts are bared by a few words—or by the fact that nothing is said at all….

"I Heard the Owl Call My Name" is one of that still rare but growing number of novels which may signal a renaissance of spiritual themes in contemporary fiction.

Jennifer Farley Smith, "Fiction: 'I Heard the Owl Call My Name'," in The Christian Science Monitor (reprinted by permission from The Christian Science Monitor; © 1974 The Christian Science Publishing Society; all rights reserved), January 30, 1974, p. F5.