Books·Canada Reads Longlist

Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice

A dystopian novel set in a a small northern Anishinaabe community.

A dystopian novel set in a a small northern Anishinaabe community

A book cover featuring a field of snow, with an abandoned truck stuck in a snow drift.

With winter looming, a small northern Anishinaabe community goes dark. Cut off, people become passive and confused. Panic builds as the food supply dwindles. While the band council and a pocket of community members struggle to maintain order, an unexpected visitor arrives, escaping the crumbling society to the south. Soon after, others follow.

The community leadership loses its grip on power as the visitors manipulate the tired and hungry to take control of the reserve. Tensions rise and, as the months pass, so does the death toll due to sickness and despair. Frustrated by the building chaos, a group of young friends and their families turn to the land and Anishinaabe tradition in hopes of helping their community thrive again. Guided through the chaos by an unlikely leader named Evan Whitesky, they seek to restore order while grappling with a grave decision.

Blending action and allegory, Moon of the Crusted Snow upends our expectations. Out of catastrophe comes resilience. And as one society collapses, another is reborn. (From ECW Press)

Moon of the Crusted Snow  is on the Canada Reads 2023 longlist. The final five books and the panellists who chose them will be revealed on Jan. 25, 2023.

Waubgeshig Rice is an Anishinaabe author and journalist originally from Wasauksing First Nation. He is also the author of the  short story collection Midnight Sweatlodge and the novel Legacy. He used to be the host of CBC Radio's Up North.

Why Waubgeshig Rice wrote Moon of the Crusted Snow

"It's set in an Anishinaabe community that's dealing with the impact of being displaced and the effects of colonialism. It's a dystopia that's already here. I could draw the personal experience of growing up in a community like this. But there's still some knowledge of being able to live on the land and use the resources of the natural world to survive.

It's a dystopia that's already here. I could draw the personal experience of growing up in a community like this.- Waubgeshig Rice

"In my work as a journalist I deal with a lot of context, especially when you're reporting on Indigenous issues and communities. There are a lot of things you have to explain to people about why things are the way they are today.

"By nature, some of that came out in the actual writing of this book. A lot of non-Indigenous people might not be aware of what's happening with Indigenous communities, but a lot of Indigenous people are still learning about how things have come to pass, even given their own personal experiences. These are things that we're still teaching ourselves and learning about in order to understand our place in Canada."

Read more in Waubgeshig Rice's interview with CBC Books.

More interviews with Waubgeshig Rice

Featured VideoThe Sudbury Theatre Centre is about to host an event that mixes literature and symphony. Author - and former Up North host - Waubgeshig Rice will be reading his novel, Moon of the Crusted Snow, accompanied by a string quartet. Producer Bridget Yard takes us backstage.
Featured VideoWhether it's in the classroom or a work of fiction it's important to get the history right. For author Waubgeshig Rice, balancing historical accuracy with a dystopian vision of the future in his new novel, Moon of the Crusted Snow, was essential.
Featured VideoTruth is sometimes stranger than fiction — but Waubgeshig Rice was not prepared for a fictitious plot point he wrote to become reality. When news broke that a Quebec couple travelled thousands of kilometres to the fly-in community of Old Crow, Yukon in an apparent attempt to avoid COVID-19, many people on Twitter linked it to a major twist in Rice’s post-apocalyptic novel, Moon of the Crusted Snow.

Other books by Waubgeshig Rice

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