The Outer Harbour
StoriesBook - 2015
City of Vancouver Book Award Winner
In his debut story collection, poet Wayde Compton explores the concept of place and identity in which characters and space merge to make narrative. These interconnected stories, imbued with the colour of speculative fiction, are towering in their conceits. As much as characters are revealed by what they do and say, in The Outer Harbour , places also speak, in the way that they shape us.
One strand of stories follows the relationship between an artist obsessed with shipping containers and a drug-addicted student, each of mixed-race, who seek in art a response to unclear identities. Another set of stories follows the geological development of a volcanic island in Burrard Inlet―Vancouver's harbour―which becomes the site of a radical Indigenous occupation, and later, in increasingly absurd shadings, a real estate development, and then a detention centre for illegal migrants. And a final suite tells the story of Donald and Albert, biracial conjoined twins, and their father, an eccentric figure whose enigmatic expression divides them.
Moving from 2001 through to 2025, The Outer Harbour is at once a history book and a cautionary tale of the future. Collectively, these stories condense and confound our preconceived ideas around race, migration, and home, creating a singular world in a city built on the legacies of racism and colonialism, hurtling towards a future both impossible and inevitable.