Lisa Moore, short-story writer, novelist (born 28 March 1964 in St. John's, NL). Three-time nominee for the Scotiabank Giller Prize (2002, 2005 and 2013), winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and long listed for the Man Booker Prize, Moore’s intimacy with her native city and province has made her, along with Wayne Johnston and Michael Winter, one of Newfoundland’s (and Canada’s) most important contemporary writers.
Education and Early Work
Lisa Moore was born and raised in St. John's, and returned to live there after earning a Bachelor of Arts degree at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Although originally intending to be a visual artist, Moore went on to study at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, where she became a member of The Burning Rock, a collective of writers that includes Michael Winter and Ramona Dearing.
Moore's work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including two collections produced by The Burning Rock: Extremities (1994) and Hearts Larry Broke (2000). Her first collection of short stories, Degrees of Nakedness, was published in 1995. In this collection, Moore establishes her ability to combine and contrast extreme emotion with everyday triviality, a technique she perfects in her Giller Prize-nominated Open. Published in 2002, Open won the Canadian Authors Association Jubilee Award for Short Stories and established Moore as a strong new voice in Canadian fiction. The stories of Open merge the mundane with the poignant, as characters contemplate love affairs, past mistakes, and missed opportunities while washing dishes or absently admiring the "ketchup screaming on the white plate" of a cold meal.
Alligator, Moore's first novel, was published in 2005 and was also nominated for the Giller Prize. In 2006, the novel won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for the Caribbean and Canada region. Once again, Moore combines the seemingly arbitrary with physical and emotional extremes to produce a compelling and complete rendering of contemporary St. John's and its inhabitants. The multiple plot-lines tell the stories of a rebellious teenager, a young hotdog vendor, a Russian castaway, a dying filmmaker, and several others. Although Alligator is often described as a collection of interconnected tales, what is remarkable about this novel is the lack of connection between these characters, despite countless opportunities for meaningful relationships. The title reflects the predatory nature, fierce territoriality, and cold reptilian indifference of characters who take advantage of each other through violence and theft or heartlessly dismiss one another. Alligator is perhaps the first presentation of St. John's as a metropolis rather than the quirky capital of a quaint province. Though attempts are made by several of its characters to foster the legendary Newfoundland neighbourliness, Alligator proves that the isolation and alienation that plague so many city dwellers can also be found in "Canada's friendliest province."
Moore’s second novel, February (2013), was among 13 candidates nominated for the prestigious Man Booker Prize. The book centres on the life of a woman in her mid-50s, Helen, who was shattered decades earlier when her husband, Cal, drowned in the sinking of the Ocean Ranger off the coast of Newfoundland in the early 1980s. Moore’s most recent novel, Caught (2013), was shortlisted for the Giller Prize. Whereas February is lyrical, meditative, and atmospheric, Caught is a fast-paced adventure novel. Set in the 1970s, it tells the story of David Slaney, a recently escaped convict who decides to make a second attempt at smuggling marijuana from Colombia to Canada.