5 books to read if you loved Canada Reads contender Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson
Haisla-Heiltsuk writer Eden Robinson has published numerous novels, poems and short stories. Her work depicts the everyday lives of Indigenous people in coastal B.C, often infusing an element of dark humour.
Her novel Son of a Trickster is a coming-of-age story that follows 16-year-old Jared Martin, a B.C.-based teen who drinks and smokes too much and sells weed cookies to get by. His relationship with his family grows more strained after his parents split up. It was on the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist and will be defended by actor Kaniehtiio Horn on Canada Reads 2020.
Finished reading Son of a Trickster and looking for your next book? Here are five Canadian options to check out.
Though he has been missing for nearly a year, Joan hasn't given up on finding her husband Victor, who disappeared after their first serious fight in the novel Empire of Wild. One morning, hungover Joan finds herself in a packed preacher's tent on a Walmart parking lot. The charismatic Reverend Wolff is none other than Victor, who claims to have no memory of Joan or their life together.
Strangers is the first book in a YA series by David A. Robertson. A decade has passed since a terrible tragedy forever changed Wounded Sky First Nation and forced Cole Harper to leave. But a series of murders and the emergence of a dangerous illness prompts Cole to return and face his demons with the help of his two oldest friends and a disfigured ghost.
The Woo-Woo is a dark, witty and touching memoir by Vancouver-based writer Lindsay Wong which takes a look at the impact of mental illness on families. Wong delivers an honest and emotional look at whispered secrets, dysfunctional relationships — and how her grandmother, mother, aunt and even herself initially blamed the mythical "woo-woo," Chinese spirits that plague the living, for their mental health issues. It was defended by Joe Zee on Canada Reads 2019.
Both Robinson's novel and Wong's memoir explore the dynamics of a family with plenty of issues, and a strong belief in the supernatural. Both use biting humour to navigate difficult issues like mental health, poverty, intergenerational trauma and racism.
Tanya Tagaq's debut book, Split Tooth, combines memoir and fiction to tell the story of a young girl growing up in the northernmost territory of Canada. The story explores addiction and violence, set in a surrounding of mythical nature. Tagaq is a Polaris Prize and Juno-winning Inuk throat singer and experimental musician from Nunavut. Split Tooth was on the longlist for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize and was a finalist for the Amazon Canada First Novel Award.
Like Robinson's story, set in the village in which she grew up, Split Tooth highlights the importance of kinship with the land through Tagaq's retelling of her own upbringing in 1970s Nunavut, which shaped her into the person she is today.
Crow Winter is a story of a young Indigenous woman named Hazel Ellis, who has the magical power to cross between the spiritual and material worlds. Following the loss of her father, she returns to Spirit Bear Point First Nation reserve to be with her mother and grieve. An old crow visits her dreams to tell her he's come to save her. As Hazel investigates what this could mean, she discovers an old magic awakening in the quarry on her late father's land. The adventure Hazel embarks on has a lasting impact on her family and community.
Crow Winter similarly reimagines the story of the trickster. In both stories, crows serve as guides. Like Jared, Hazel questions reality and dreaming as the line between the two blurs.