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I Heard the Owl Call My Name

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  5,469 ratings  ·  636 reviews
In a world that knows too well the anguish inherent in the clash of old ways and new lifestyles, Margaret Craven's classic and timeless story of a young man's journey into the Pacific Northwest is as relevant today as ever.

Here amid the grandeur of British Columbia stands the village of Kingcome, a place of salmon runs and ancient totems - a village so steeped in time that
Paperback, 146 pages
Published January 10th 2005 by Fitzhenry & Whiteside (first published 1967)
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Lusia Mark Brian is a young vicar who had gone to 'Kingcome Village" inorder to keep himself occupied without worrying about his death. (doctor said he has…moreMark Brian is a young vicar who had gone to 'Kingcome Village" inorder to keep himself occupied without worrying about his death. (doctor said he has no less than 3 yrs to live) ...(less)

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3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,469 ratings  ·  636 reviews

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The reader knows from page one that the young Vicar Mark Brian is doomed to die from a disease of which he is as yet unaware. The bishop who knows about Mark's impending death wisely sends him to Kingcome (Quee in the local tongue), a remote village in British Columbia. As the novel progresses it becomes apparent why the decision is a wise one.

This is how the First Nation inhabitants regard their village: “His village is not the strip of land four miles long and three miles wide that is his as l
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book will stay with you as long as you live. I should know - I first read it nearly 60 years ago! I was a callow pre-teen.

Only a few years earlier, my family and I had boarded the intercontinental trans-Canada passenger train for British Columbia. It had been my first glimpse of the Pacific.

My Great-Aunt Lila and Uncle Jack had invited us for a pleasant lunch, then driven us all down to the old ferry terminal in Vancouver for the trip across the strait to Vancouver Island.

And, oh, that sal
Lynne King
Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canada
Updated 22 July 2013

Well, I’ve reread this book that I first read so many years ago and I do believe, well perhaps there were one or two other books in the past that have had the same effect on me, that this is the first book that has left me with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes when I finished it. I went to bed and finally reread the end and thought my….what an incredible wonderful work!

This is such a simple story but it shines through with all the wonders of our life on this magnifice
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The depth and majesty of this telling is only equal to its superb "eyes" for those of the tribe who live in the village of Kingcome.

The natural world of the inlets of British Columbia and the path of Mark, the new vicar- are far, far beyond what only the eyes can see and the words describe.

Classic. If it is not, than it absolutely should be.

Would that all endings could be as worthy and dramatic as Mark's. And the acceptances of change, yet without a moment's forgetting of a giving respect and
When we read Margaret Craven's brilliant and evocative I Heard the Owl Call My Name in junior high (and I would consider I Heard the Owl Call my Name while not perhaps suitable for young readers, definitely both appropriate and fitting for anyone above the age of twelve or so), I just and mainly enjoyed and appreciated the author's narrative as a heart-warming and in many ways heart-wrenching reading experience (both sweet and sad at the same time, with a text that has the power to envelop, to m ...more
I found the topics discussed to be all too simplified. The themes are life, death and friendship as well as how modern life is a threat to the traditions and culture of the First Nation people in Canada.

Through the author's writing I did not perceive the beauty of the land. Nature writing is a theme I enjoy, but I personally didn't find it here. The language is flat.

A character in the book is to die, and the way this is treated is not direct enough for me. Heap on the problems. Don’t give me th
Karyn Huenemann
Sep 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most powerful novels of the First Nations people I have ever read. The natives of Kingcome, where the novel is set, agree with this assessment. Surprisingly, it was written by a female American journalist who spent only 5 weeks living in Kingcome. Her imagination was captured by a report about Eric Powell, an Anglican priest who was sent to teach the natives in Kingcome but, by his own report, instead learned much from them about the peace that their culture brings to them—and ...more

I needed something short and quick to read and picked this up when I saw it at the library. I think I read it in junior high, although I may be confusing it with Hal Borland's When the Legends Die (both are books about Indians in the woods). It's a sweet, sad story about a young vicar with a terminal disease (which he is unaware of) who is sent to a parish in remote coastal British Columbia. No matter how much he does for the Indians, he is told, they will never say "thank you," because they hav
Sep 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canada, reviewed
"She waited as if she had waited all her life, as if she were part of time itself, gently and patiently. Did she remember that in the old days the Indian mother of the Kwakiutl band who lost a child kicked the small body three times and said to it, 'Do not look back. Do not turn your head. Walk straight on. You are going to the land of the owl'?"

I was recommended this book for my Canada project. Although written by an American, the story is set in British Columbia and tells of a young vicar who
This was a re-read for me, but it might as well have been my first time, I remembered so little. Mind you, I think I was in my teens when I read it the first time. My only memory of it was a feeling of melancholy.

The young vicar, Mark, is sent to the Kwakiutl village of Kingcome by his bishop, who knows Mark has a terminal illness, but chooses not to tell him. In our 21st century culture of consent, this just wouldn’t happen anymore. No doctor worth his or her salt would let a patient out of the
Susan's Reviews
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was required reading in middle school. I loved it at the time, although I know now that this does not tell a complete story of Canada's and the church's abysmal treatment of Native Indians. The young Anglican vicar's death at the end of the story was very moving, and I suspect it taught us young readers to have more of a reverence for the here and now, and for life in general. I will never forget the advice Mark gave to some young students who were going to be integrated into a non-native s ...more
Roger Brunyate
The Swimmer's Season
      The young vicar stopped his patching and descended the ladder.
      "Chief Eddy," he said earnestly, "there is something I have been meaning to ask you. How do you pronounce the name of your tribe?" It is spelled Tsawataineuk.
      There was a silence.
      "Would you mind saying it again?"
      "Jowedaino," and Mark listened more carefully than he had ever listened to any work in his entire life and could not tell if the word was Zowodaino or Chowud
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a classic work of fiction by an American journalist who lived for a time among the Indians of the small remote village of “Kingcome” on the coast of British Columbia, and wrote this book at the age of 69 in 1967.
The story follows young Vicar Mark Brian as he’s chosen by the Bishop who knows him to be terminally ill and who decides to provide an experience that will most enrich his last years which is to labor among the Indians who still live in the village unspoiled by civilization. Of c
Deborah Pickstone
A rather enchanting and beautiful story that captures both the vicar's thinking and the tribe's, somehow, in the words used. The language is spare and to the point - carved into a story like one of the masks. The Bishop is astonishingly wise, which is a bit hard to credit (Bishops being usually administrative rather than pastorally talented in my experience). But he had done his time there also.

I cried at the end - not a common event for me. I was completely taken by surprise by the people's acc
Sep 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Rhea by: School
5 stars for teaching me about Life.

I'm so happy they made us read this in 6th grade! Of course, that meant that only two other people liked it (I'm weird, aren't I? Everyone loved The Hobbit but me and no one loved this book but me.)

In its pages, I glimpsed something magical and meaningful, some truth about life. I think it helped shape who I am, at least a little.
Jan 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Craven's simple spiritual style is vaguely reminiscent of Hermann Hesse's writing. She captures the spirit of the Kwakiutl, both people and landscape, with a similarly quiet intensity.

The story itself is one of a young Anglican priest named Mark who is sent to a remote native village on the British Columbian coast after he is diagnosed with only a couple of years to live. He is not aware of it at the time and sets about trying to win the respect of the people whom he must tend to.

I was drawn in
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fifty year old book (published first in 1967 in Canada), and I know it has sold a few million copies and that I am coming to the party late. However, this book touched me profoundly. It's where I am in my life presently - longing for a simpler, more meaningful existence, making a spiritual connection with people and the world I live in. There is a sadness that permeates this material - it anticipates and mourns the passing away of old ways and traditions, and looks ahead with resignati ...more
Jan 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book ever. I read it back in high school a long long time ago. It is a power novel that had me crying by the end of the. I remember my entire class sitting in pin drop silence when the teacher finished reading. I highly recommend this book. As I said, the best book.
Jun 02, 2009 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
An Anglican bishop sends a young priest to a remote First Nation village in northwest Canada. The priest is terminally ill but he doesn't know it yet. (He has trageditis, the same mysterious disease that killed Beth March along with numerous Dickens characters.) I think his story turns out to be our own. God sends us into a strange world. We have a choice. Will we be like the Mountie, the teacher, the tourists, and the anthropologist who care only for their own interests and lack any empathy wit ...more
Oct 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful historical book about the life and beliefs of the indigenous people in British Columbia and the encroaching Western world. This was like reading poetry mixed with philosophy and religion. An easy short read with a lot of depth. (This was one of the few books I remember my mother reading. She loved it. At the time she worked at SeaTac airport and in the 70's it was infused with Native American decor and the gift shops were filled with those types of items as souvenirs. Sort of brings ...more
Dec 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
The more I think about it, the more I really like this book. It's about a priest who goes up north to serve a parish that consists of several Indian villages. He doesn't turn native, he doesn't try to turn them white, and he doesn't fall in love with an Indian maiden. He is really very Christlike in his approach: he lives among the people, respects them, helps them out, and loves them. It's beautiful.
Karen Witzler
Read 40 years ago. I liked it at the time, though now details are hazy, except that there was sadness, melancholy, inevitable loss. I remember thinking that this was unfair.
Oct 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Was part of our English curriculum in high school.
Sep 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, canada, library
This is a beautiful short novel, the story told in spare, simple, stark prose, each word evoking the setting, the people, and their emotions. I'm not ashamed to say I had tears in my eyes in many parts of the novel, and even wept at the conclusion.

A young Anglican priest, Mark, ailing [with what I am guessing is cancer, although we never know for sure], with only two years to live, is sent by his bishop to minister to a Kwakiutl Indian tribe in British Columbia. The old canon, Caleb, who accomp
Nov 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book touched me in its calm and unspectular language and pace that matches life in this Indian village where a young vicar finds a whole new world - and a home.

In my opinion the author himself gives the best review on the final pages of his own book:

"And what had he learned? Surely not the truth of the Indian. There was no one truth. He had learned a little of the truth of one tribe in one village. He had seen the sadness, the richness, the tragic poignancy of a way of life that each year,
Jennifer (aka EM)
Apr 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: jo
Lovely. A welcome counterpoint to the more politically-charged First Nations' novels I've been reading so much of lately. Sad, but not angry. Reminded me of Cather's Death Comes For The Archbishop--similarly episodic, lyrical and atmospheric. A gorgeous read and a very sympathetic priest whose relationship with the Kwakiutl tribe on the coast of BC, (view spoiler) whom he lives with, learns about, and loves, could have been a cliché but avoids it by bei ...more
Jun 04, 2007 rated it liked it
The setting is a young priest sent to work on a native american reservation in the pacific northwest.

Once you get past the implausible set-up (i.e., young priest is terminally ill, but will be healthy and symptom-free for two years; doctor tells the priest's SUPERVISOR/bishop this diagnosis but hides it from the priest), it is a pleasant story about friendships that develop across cultures.

There isn't a lot of action - it's more just a slice of life - but the characters are strong enough to hol
The setting. The characters. The sentiment. Based on comments from one of my friends, I didn't expect to like this book. But I thoroughly enjoyed it. Maybe it wasn't her type of story.
Feb 14, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, north-america
A quiet, contemplative book. If you're looking for a nice little piece that provides lovely description of the Pacific Northwest in a remote native village, this will suit you. It does touch on the meaning of life, as well as death, so it's sort of a "big themes" in a little package type of book.
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Margaret Craven (March 13, 1901 – July 19, 1980) was an American author.

(from Wikipedia)
“Here every bird and fish knew its course. Every tree had its own place upon this earth. Only man had lost his way.” 37 likes
“He watched their faces, and he knew each meant desperately what she said because they loved each other, and deep inside surely each knew the words were false, that the true words were those unspoken.” 12 likes
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