Canada Reads spotlight: Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson
Given the ongoing developments with COVID-19 and the related travel concerns, Canada Reads was postponed.
This episode is about Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson.
Son of a Trickster is a novel about Jared, a compassionate 16-year-old, maker of famous weed cookies, the caretaker of his elderly neighbours, the son of an unreliable father and unhinged, though loving in her way, mother. As Jared ably cares for those around him, in between getting black-out drunk, he shrugs off the magical and strange happenings that follow him around.
Why Eden Robinson wrote Son of a Trickster
"If you are invited to a potlatch, then you are there as a witness, and the redistribution is payment for your role as a witness. You're publicly acknowledging the event, and if you are asked about it, you are expected to recount truthfully and honestly what happened at that event. It's a way of keeping public accountability.
I think of a novel as something in amber, whereas the oral stories are still alive and flying around.- Eden Robinson
"The stories that I grew up with are fluid. They're living, breathing things that need tending, whereas a novel is its own little encased world. I think of a novel as something in amber, whereas the oral stories are still alive and flying around."
Eden Robinson on writing a contemporary Trickster tale
"I felt a lot of pressure to get it right. Anytime I was touching on cultural material, I felt a deep need to hit the notes properly. So I brought cousins into the consultation pretty early, they were reading rough drafts. And I'm very lucky that my family is blunt, so if there is something that I was getting wrong or interpreting weirdly, they would just tell me. I was very grateful for their feedback.
"Son of a Trickster is speaking to an experience in Canada that is more rural. It's the inclusion of people who are just scraping by in what everyone else seems to think of as the boonies. That was really important to me and I hope that the complexity of the characters is coming through."
Why Kaniehtiio Horn chose Son of a Trickster for Canada Reads
"There aren't that many stories out there about Indigenous people. So when there are you, as an Indigenous person, you gravitate toward them.
"I read Son of a Trickster about a year ago. I remember in the first few pages I was like, 'Holy. Just dirty, mean language.' But I was like, 'I'm going to keep going.' Jared the protagonist reminded me of my nieces and nephews. I feel like I knew the characters. I've grown up with the characters. I could see myself in the characters and having this magical element really drew me to it. It was very attractive to me.
I could see myself in the characters and having this magical element really drew me to it.- Kaniehtiio Horn
"I think it highlights the Indigenous experience in Canada, but without shoving the trauma and the hardships and the realities that we face as Indigenous people in Canada down your throat. It's got magic in it and I think it's accessible to all Canadians."
Kaniehtiio Horn and Eden Robinson chat about Son of a Trickster
Eden Robinson (ER): To me, at the heart of Son of a Trickster is Jared and the extreme care that he has for all the other characters. Even though they're complicated and sometimes dangerous, he still wants them in his life and he still cares.
KH: How were you first introduced to the trickster character Wee'git?
ER: In the crib, with the bottle. They told us trickster stories as kids, daily. When I first started to remember the stories, after dinner everyone used to gather at the kitchen table and we would be having dessert — along with smoking and drinking a lot of coffee. I have so many wonderful storytellers in my family.
ER: They would all be trying to one up each other. When they started on the Wee'git stories, they would get faster and crazier and funnier. The goal was to make people laugh until they peed.
KH: That's good. Must've been loud.
ER: I have the quiet laugh in my family.