Eric Roberts' Weblog

Late Nights On Air

Late Nights On Air is Elizabeth Hay’s Giller Prize winning novel that uses Yellowknife in the 1970s to explore the complex relationships between  staff members at the local CBC radio station.   It is a heady time in the area as Thomas Berger conducts his Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry and the future of the North is being decided.  Ttwo young women just starting their careers, the confident Dido and the hesitant Gwen have a profound effect on the aging veteran Harry.  Back in the North after squandering a career in broadcasting, Yellowknife was Harry’s first chance and now it is his last.  Hay does an excellent job of drawing the characters and though some of the relationships are predictable they are well woven.

In my mind this book is reminiscent of some of Hugh MacLennan’s novels.  The setting looms large, there is an important historical backdrop, but it is the romance and the conflict between the characters that keeps the reader turning the pages.  A comparison with something like Return of the Phoenix or Watch That Ends the Night could be easily done.

Thematically, Hay has created a work that prominently explores coming of age, the endurance of the human spirit, second chances and the search for meaning.


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