Books·Canada Reads 2020

Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson

Eden Robinson's coming-of-age novel is about an Indigenous teen navigating challenging family dynamics.

Defended by Kaniehtiio Horn

Kaniehtiio Horn is defending Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson on Canada Reads 2020. (CBC)

Kaniehtiio Horn is defending Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson on Canada Reads 2020.

Canada Reads 2020 will take place July 20-23.

About Son of a Trickster

Everyone knows a guy like Jared: the burnout kid in high school who sells weed cookies and has a scary mom who's often wasted and wielding some kind of weapon. Jared does smoke and drink too much, and he does make the best cookies in town, and his mom is a mess, but he's also a kid who has an immense capacity for compassion and an impulse to watch over people more than twice his age, and he can't rely on anyone for consistent love and support, except for his flatulent pit bull, Baby Killer (he calls her Baby) — and now she's dead.

Jared can't count on his mom to stay sober and stick around to take care of him. He can't rely on his dad to pay the bills and support his new wife and step-daughter. Jared is only 16, but feels like he is the one who must stabilize his family's life, even look out for his elderly neighbours. But he struggles to keep everything afloat... and sometimes he blacks out. And he puzzles over why his maternal grandmother has never liked him, why she says he's the son of a trickster, that he isn't human. Mind you, ravens speak to him — even when he's not stoned.

You think you know Jared, but you don't. (From Knopf Canada)

Son of a Trickster was on the shortlist for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize. It is being adapted into a TV series set to premiere on CBC in 2020

About Kaniehtiio Horn

Kaniehtiio Horn is a Canadian actress from Kahnawake, the Mohawk reserve outside of Montreal. She stars as Mari in the National Geographic series Barkskins, based on the 2016 bestselling novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Proulx, and currently appears in the critically acclaimed comedy series Letterkenny. She is also the host of the podcast Coffee With My Ma, sharing the adventures and experiences of her activist mother.

Kaniehtiio Horn on Son of a Trickster

Why Kaniehtiio Horn is drawn to books that subvert the colonial gaze

3 years ago
Duration 3:13
On Day Two of Canada Reads 2020, the actress shared how she felt reading the memoir From the Ashes.

Amanda Brugel and Kaniehtiio Horn highlight similarities between their books in addressing the complexities of family dynamics

3 years ago
Duration 2:29
On Day Three of Canada Reads 2020, the two panellists drew parallels between the books they are defending.

About Eden Robinson

Eden Robinson is an award-winning author from Kitamaat, B.C. She is also the author of the novels Monkey Beach and Trickster DriftSon of a Trickster and Trickster Drift are the first two books of a planned Trickster trilogy.

Why Eden Robinson wrote Son of a Trickster

"The Trickster is also known as Wee'git. He's a transforming raven and he has a very specific role in our culture. We tell our children Wee'git stories to teach them about protocol, or nuyum. But he teaches people this protocol by breaking all the rules. He is the bad example, the example of what not to do. So his stories are always funny and he's a very lively character. As a writer, I assumed that he was going to be narrating my story, but I quickly discovered that it was a lot like having Sherlock Holmes telling the story. It was pretty braggy from his point of view. I needed a Watson.

We tell our children Wee'git stories to teach them about protocol, or nuyum. But he teaches people this protocol by breaking all the rules.- Eden Robinson

"It was a real search to figure out who this Watson would be. I knew that Wee'git would go to the all-Native basketball tournament. He has a crush on a girl who has a crush on someone else. Wee'git transforms himself into that crush and they have a kid. I tried telling it from basically every point of view, and it wasn't working. At the same time, I was also writing short stories about an urban dance group in East Vancouver. One of the characters I was writing about was coming down on the Greyhound late at night. That scene haunted me, and I realized that the kid coming down to Vancouver was Jared — who was the baby that resulted in the Trickster hookup at the basketball tournament. Once I found Jared's voice, everything started to move." 

Read more in her interview with CBC Books.

From the book

Jared hadn't realized he loved his dog until they decided to put her down. His mom and the vet agreed on a time, like her euthanasia was just a regular appointment. While he went to school, Baby would stay at the vet's, sedated. In a way, he wanted them to do it right now, so it wouldn't be hanging over them all day, but he was kind of glad there were rules to follow. Jared scratched Baby's head. She was the result of a pit bull mixed with a boxer, a heavy, deep-chested dog with scraggly ears from a fight with her brother. Her fur was mottled orange, black and grey, a squiggly pattern like a toddler had coloured her with fading markers. Her face looked like it had been flattened by a shovel. She farted constantly from a diet of cheap dog food and a tendency to eat whatever landed on the floor. 

From Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson ©2016. Published by Knopf Canada.

Interviews with Eden Robinson

Other books by Eden Robinson

The Canada Reads 2020 contenders

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