Five Little Indians by Michelle Good wins Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for best title for adults

The Evergreen Award recognizes the best Canadian fiction and nonfiction titles for adults. It is part of the Forest of Reading program.
Five Little Indians is a novel by Michelle Good. (Harper Perennial, Candice Camille)

Cree author Michelle Good has won the 2021 Evergreen Award for her novel Five Little Indians.

The Evergreen Award is part of the Forest of Reading program, in which readers are encouraged to read from a selection of shortlisted books and vote for their favourites over several months.

The Evergreen Award recognizes the best Canadian fiction and nonfiction titles for adults. The other six awards are for students from kindergarten to high school.

Five Little Indians chronicles the quest of five residential school survivors to come to terms with their past and find a way forward. Released after years of detention, five teens find their way to the seedy and foreign world of Downtown Eastside Vancouver, where they cling together, striving to find a place of safety and belonging in a world that doesn't want them.

The book also won the 2021 Amazon Canada First Novel Award and the 2020 Governor General's Literary Award for fiction. It has been acquired by Prospero Pictures to be adapted as a limited series

"The thing that I was observing was that we could communicate the facts of the number of children that were forced to attend school and the manner in which they were forced to attend school," said Good in a interview with The Next Chapter.

"It occurred to me that this needed to be told as a story — as something that people could engage in — with more ease than a factual diatribe."

Good is a writer, retired lawyer and a member of Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. Her poems, short stories and essays have been published in magazines and anthologies across Canada. She now lives in southern British Columbia. Five Little Indians is her first novel.

LISTEN | Michelle Good discusses Five Little Indians:

Writer Michelle Good has won the Governor General’s Literary Award for English-language fiction. Her debut novel, Five Little Indians, follows five teenagers as they leave residential school and strive to find a place of safety in a world that doesn’t want them. Good previously worked as a lawyer advocating for residential school survivors. She joined Tom Power from Kamloops, B.C., to discuss her work and her amazing literary achievement. If you have been affected by the residential school system and you need support right now, help is out there. The Residential School Crisis Line is open 24-hours a day. The number is 1-866-925-4419.

"Michelle Good's novel, Five Little Indians, illustrates how fiction can help us cultivate empathy, arrive at understanding and seek truth," Erin Kernohan-Berning, chair of the Evergreen Award Committee, said in a statement.

"That Five Little Indians has been voted this year's Evergreen Award winner by readers demonstrates that Indigenous stories are important, and I hope that readers continue to learn from and elevate these stories."

Readers can virtually attend the 2021 Evergreen Award Winner in Conversation with Michelle Good on Oct. 22 at 2:30 p.m. ET, as part of the Toronto International Festival of Authors.

Last year's winner for the Evergreen Award was Alicia Elliott's essay collection A Mind Spread Out on the Ground.

The Forest of Reading program is organized by the Ontario Library Association. 

It is the largest reading award program in Canada. In 2020, more than 270,000 readers across the country participated in the program, with over 110,000 readers casting votes.

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