Happy Thursday Savvy Readers! I don’t know about you, but with everything that’s going on in the news, I’ve been looking to diversify my reading lists. In Canada, June is National Indigenous Peoples’ Month, yet Indigenous voices are still underrepresented in all facets of our culture. So today, I’m bringing you a list of awesome books by Indigenous authors!
77 Fragments of a Familiar Ruin by Thomas King
Timely, important, mischievous, powerful: in a word, exceptional. Seventy-seven poems intended as a eulogy for what we have squandered, a reprimand for all we have allowed, a suggestion for what might still be salvaged, a poetic quarrel with our intolerant and greedy selves, a reflection on mortality and longing, as well as a long-running conversation with the mythological currents that flow throughout North America.
Stolen Sisters by Emmanuelle Walter
In 2014, the nation was rocked by the brutal violence against young Aboriginal women Loretta Saunders, Tina Fontaine and Rinelle Harper. But they were not the only Aboriginal women to suffer that year. Stolen Sisters is a moving and deeply shocking work of investigative journalism that makes the claim that not only is Canada failing its First Nations communities, but that femicide is taking place.
Crow Winter by Karen McBride
An incredible debut novel by Algonquin Anishinaabe writer Karen McBride, Crow Winter is full of spirit, love, mystery and good medicine, and follows Hazel’s story as it intertwines with that of one very tricky little crow…
Dreadful Water by Thomas King
Mystery lovers! If you haven’t picked up Thomas King‘s Dreadful Water mystery series, now’s your chance! Thumps DreadfulWater is a Cherokee ex-cop trying to make a living as a photographer in the small town of Chinook, somewhere in the northwestern United States. But he doesn’t count on snapping shots of a dead body languishing in a newly completed luxury condo resort built by the local Indian band. Smart and savvy, blessed with a killer dry wit and a penchant for self-deprecating humour, DreadfulWater just can’t manage to shed his California cop skin. Before long, he is deeply entangled in the mystery and has his work cut out for him.
Five Little Indians by Michelle Good
Taken from their families when they are very small and sent to a remote, church-run residential school, Kenny, Lucy, Clara, Howie and Maisie are barely out of childhood when they are finally released after years of detention. Alone and without any skills, support or families, the teens find their way to the seedy and foreign world of Downtown Eastside Vancouver. The paths of the five friends cross and crisscross over the decades as they struggle to overcome, or at least forget, the trauma they endured during their years at the Mission.
The North-West Is Our Mother by Jean Teillet
There is a missing chapter in the narrative of Canada’s Indigenous peoples—the story of the Métis Nation, a new Indigenous people descended from both First Nations and Europeans. In The North-West Is Our Mother, Louis Riel’s great-grand-niece Jean Teillet provides an engaging account of the Metis Nation and the struggle for rights and justice of its citizens.
Thomas King‘s Literary Fiction
This isn’t the first time we’ve featured Thomas King in this article (and, spoiler alert, there’s one more coming!), but his work is just so prolific that it all demands our attention. Whether it’s poetry, literary fiction, history, or mystery, Thomas King has an excellent book for you to pick up. Here’s a selection of our favourite literary fiction. And, of course, it goes without saying that his books Medicine River and The Inconvenient Indian are the definition of must-reads.
Birdie by Tracey Lindberg
Bernice Meetoos will not be broken. A big, beautiful Cree woman with a dark secret in her past, Bernice (”Birdie”) has left her home in northern Alberta to travel to Gibsons, B.C. She is on something of a vision quest, looking for family, for home, for understanding. Informed by the lore and knowledge of Cree traditions, Birdie is a darkly comic and moving first novel about the universal experience of recovering from tragedy. At heart, it is the story of an extraordinary woman who travels to the deepest part of herself to find the strength to face the past and to build a new life.
Indians on Vacation by Thomas King
Told you Thomas King would be making another appearance! Meet Bird and Mimi in this brilliant new novel from one of Canada’s foremost authors. Inspired by a handful of old postcards sent by Uncle Leroy nearly a hundred years earlier, Bird and Mimi attempt to trace Mimi’s long-lost uncle and the family medicine bundle he took with him to Europe. By turns witty, sly and poignant, this is the unforgettable tale of one couple’s holiday trip to Europe, where their wanderings through its famous capitals reveal a complicated history, both personal and political.
Black Water by David A. Robertson
The son of a Cree father and a non-Indigenous mother, David A. Robertson was raised with virtually no knowledge or understanding of his family’s Indigenous roots. Structured around a father-son journey to the northern trapline where Robertson and his father will reclaim their connection to the land, Black Water is the story of another journey: a young man seeking to understand his father’s story, to come to terms with his lifelong experience with anxiety, and to finally piece together his own blood memory, the parts of his identity that are woven into the fabric of his DNA.
Well Savvy Readers, that’s all I have for you today! Which of these must-read Indigenous books are you adding to your TBR? Tell me in the comments below or tweet us @SavvyReader.
And as always, happy reading!