Prairie Ostrich

Tamai Kobayashi's young adult novel is about a feisty outsider struggling with the aftermath of her brother's death.

Tamai Kobayashi

In 1974, the Murakami family is struggling with the aftermath of the death of their son while still struggling to fit in to their rural Alberta home. At the centre of this is eight-year-old Egg Murakami, who is struggling to make sense of it all. Tamai Kobayashi has crafted a rich and compelling family drama that tackles age-old questions while feeling completely new.

Kobayashi won the 2014 Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBT Emerging Writers.

Prairie Ostrich is for readers ages 12 and up.

From the book

Egg Murakami is eight years old and her feet are perfect. Not everyone can say that. She dangles her feet over the edge of the bed and clicks her tongue. The crisp autumn light spills over the ledge of her window, throwing shadows across the floor. Mornings are new, like a fresh sheet of paper. Mornings are new, without any mistakes. She can hear her mother in the kitchen, the metallic clatter of the kettle on the stove. Her big sister Kathy twists the tap in the bathroom, a squeak that runs through the pipes in the floors. It is almost peaceful. Nekoneko, her puppet Kitty with the homemade eye patch, stands guard on her bedside table, gazing over the smash and scatter of Lego and dinky cars strewn on the faded russet rug. Beneath her window lies the barrens of southern Alberta, the stunted grass that sweeps into the Badlands. To the right, the sagging barn with its long wire pens. Left, the stubble fields that roll to the horizon. She taps her heels together. The low groan of the barn gate rumbles through the air. The ostriches burst from their enclosure, shaggy feathers hovering above the ground, legs a blur of spindly angles, as if in flight after all. Across the pen, down the line of the fence, they run with a frantic energy — then stop, stiff, as if confronted by an immovable object. The ostriches spin, twirling, their wings spread as if to greet the day, heads held high in a dizzying, exuberant dance.

From Prairie Ostrich by Tamai Kobayashi ©2014. Published by Goose Lane Editions.