Indigenous authors recommend books all Canadians should read

What do you do when you have a bunch of writers on the show? You ask them for book picks of course! This week we asked all our guests to answer the question: "If you could recommend a book by an Indigenous author that everyone in Canada should read, what would it be?"
Left to Right: Authors Alicia Elliott, Daniel Heath Justice and Lee Maracle (Courtesy of Alicia Elliott/Melvin Yap/Columpa Bobb)

What do you do when you have a bunch of writers on the show? You ask them for book picks of course!

This week we asked all our guests to answer the question: "If you could recommend a book by an Indigenous author that everyone in Canada should read, what would it be?" 

Lee Maracle 

Lee Maracle's latest book is My Conversations With Canadians. (Columpa Bobb)
Lee Maracle is Sto:Lo and one of the most established and respected Indigenous writers in Canada. She has written books of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and appeared in many anthologies. Her first book, Bobbi Lee: Indian Rebel, was published in 1975. Her latest book, My Conversations With Canadians, came out in 2017. 
The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline and Katherena Vermette's The Break. (Dancing Cats Books/House of Anansi Press)

The first book she chose was The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline.

"There's something beautiful about the concept, the idea that our dreams are located in our marrow. And there's a realization by Cherie, that these people have lost the ability to dream which is why they can't connect with us right now. They are not a people of dreamers, the way we are. I think it's a powerful text ... in getting people to switch the way they're looking at themselves," Maracle said. 

She also chose The Break by Katherena Vermette.

"There's this passage that I think the book is worth it for that one passage. It's that woman that's up in the Sky World talking to her daughter down below. 'I'm waiting for you, I will always wait for you.' The women in the book are so amazing and the writing's so beautiful. It's almost poetry all the way through ... it's so engaging. But that one passage, I really love it because it's our worldview. We don't see a difference between the world of the dead and the world of the living. So you get the feeling from that chapter that the dead miss us too, we don't just miss them." 

Daniel Heath Justice

Daniel Heath Justice is the author of Why Indigenous Literatures Matter. (Melvin Yap)
Daniel Heath Justice, is a professor of Native Studies at the University of British Columbia, from the Cherokee Nation. 
Daniel Heath Justice recommends Canadians check out Johnny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead and anything written by Marilyn Dumont. (Arsenal Pulp Press/Brick Books)

He wrote the book Why Indigenous Literatures Matter. The book that he recommends Canadians read is Johnny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead, available April 2018.

"It's glorious, it's astonishing — just such a brilliant novel," said Justice.

In addition to Whitehead, Justice would love to see more Canadians read anything by Cree/Métis poet Marilyn Dumont.

"A Really Good Brown Girl is of course a classic, but I think anything that Marilyn writes," said Justice.

Alicia Elliott

Alicia Elliott's first book of essays is forthcoming from Doubleday Canada in Spring 2019. (Submitted by Alicia Elliott)
Alicia Elliott is a Tuscarora writer living in Brantford, Ontario.
Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot and This Wound is a World by Billy-Ray Belcourt. (Doubleday/Frontenac House)
Her writing has been published by The Malahat ReviewThe New QuarterlyThe WalrusGlobe and Mail and many others. Her essay "A Mind Spread Out on the Ground" won Gold at the National Magazine Awards. Her first book of essays is forthcoming from Doubleday Canada in Spring 2019.

The books Elliott recommends Canadians read are Billy-Ray Belcourt's This Wound is a World and Terese Marie Mailhot's Heart Berries: A Memoir.

"Those two are great, but honestly I feel like I could probably list like 20 [titles] off the top of my head," said Elliott.

Theodore Van Alst

Theodore Van Alst is an associate professor of Native American Studies at the University of Montana. (Provided by Theodore Van Alst)
Cherie Dimaline's The Marrow Thieves and Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones. (Dancing Cat Books/William Morrow Paperbacks)
 Theodore Van Alst is an associate professor of Native American studies at the University of Montana. 

While there are several books he would recommend, he says that Canadians should read Cherie Dimaline's The Marrow Thieves

Another book he recommends is Stephen Graham Jones's Mongrels — a young adult book about werewolves.  

"There's some really interesting identity issues, but he kind of reworks the whole werewolf mythos, in really interesting and cool ways" said Van Alst.

Gregory Younging

Greg Younging is an assistant professor of community, culture and global studies at the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus. (Provided by Greg Younging)

Gregory Younging is an assistant professor of community, culture and global studies at the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus.
The Fourth World: An Indian Reality by George Manuel (Collier-Macmillan Canada)

He recommends that all Canadians track down a book no longer in print — George Manuel's The Fourth World: An Indian Reality.

"That's a book I read when I was very young, and it politicized me," said Younging. "It taught me about colonization, decolonization, and it had some new concepts in it, like the fourth world."

In the book, Manuel says that Indigenous people live in poverty — conditions similar to third world countries — but also have to deal with the effects of colonization. 

Younging explains that in the book, Manuel states that "people in the third world are left alone to live in their poverty ... [but] Indigenous people are living in poverty and they're colonized." 

A condition that Manuel labelled the fourth world.