'The O'Briens': A Multigenerational Canadian Epic

In the Law of Dreams, Canadian writer Peter Behrens' first novel, an Irish immigrant, based on Behrens' grandfather, makes his way out of famine-starved Ireland to Canada. The novel came out in 2006 to wide acclaim and won Canada's Governor-General's award for fiction.

Now, Behrens has followed up with another multigenerational novel. The O'Briens opens in 1867, with teenage Joe O'Brien scratching out a living in Quebec after his father and mother have both died.

Joe will go on to become the novel's patriarch. Behrens has taken the story of Canada's nation-building: railroads, churches, towns, two world wars — and made it part of the epic sweep of this book, which spans the decades to end in the 1960s. Behrens talks about his new novel with NPR's Jacki Lyden.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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