Indians on Vacation

Indians on Vacation is a novel by Thomas King.

Thomas King

(HarperCollins Publishers)

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.

 "I'm sweaty and sticky. My ears are still popping from the descent into Vaclav Havel. My sinuses ache. My stomach is upset. My mouth is a sewer. I roll over and bury my face in a pillow. Mimi snuggles down beside me with no regard for my distress.

 'My god,' she whispers, 'can it get any better?'"

 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. (From HarperCollins Canada)

Indians on Vacation was on the 2020 Writers's Trust Fiction Prize shortlist. It was also on the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist and was a finalist for the 2020 Governor General's Literary Prize for fiction.

Thomas King is a Canadian-American writer of Cherokee and Greek ancestry. His books include Truth & Bright WaterThe Inconvenient IndianGreen Grass, Running Water and The Back of the Turtle. He also writes the DreadfulWater mystery series.

Why Thomas King wrote Indians on Vacation

"I always wondered what I was going to be able to do with all the travel that my wife drags me off on. And so I decided, well, I'll write a book about that. And so I did. 

My wife loves to travel. It's one of her great treats and it's one of my abject horrors.

"We were in Prague and then we went down to Budapest to get on a river cruise up to Amsterdam. My wife loves to travel. It's one of her great treats and it's one of my abject horrors."

"Bird doesn't like to travel much — and in that we are alike. But I don't know if it's autobiographical. There are pieces of autobiography that creep in, but that happens with all my books."

Read more in his interview with The Next Chapter.

From the book

About six years ago, Mimi decided that we should travel.

"We can follow the postcards," she told me. "Maybe we'll find out what happened to Uncle Leroy. We might even find the Crow bundle. Wouldn't that be great."

"Why don't we look for the Lost Lemon mine while we're at it?"

"And the travel will give me a chance to paint other places in the world."

"You paint water. You don't need to travel to paint water."

"You could take your typewriter and your camera. Just like the old days, Bird. You were one of the best."

"I haven't used a typewriter in years."

"Maybe it will inspire you to finish your book."

"And there is no book."

"But there could be."

It's a losing battle, but I try anyway. "Why would we want to travel, when we can stay home?"

"Travel is broadening," said Mimi, though that old adage has never been proven. "And it will help take your mind off your health."

So we're in Prague.

From Indians on Vacation by Thomas King ©2020. Published by HarperCollins Canada.

Interviews with Thomas King

Thomas King talks about the autobiographical inspiration by his novel Indians on Vacation, which is longlisted for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Shelagh's conversation with Thomas King about his novel "The Back of the Turtle". It's the winner of the 2014 Governor General's Award for Fiction.
Recorded at Montreal's Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival, Thomas King joins Rosanna Deerchild on stage in this extended conversation about writing, research and Indigenous humour.

Other books by Thomas King

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now