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The Back of the Turtle

Thomas King's novel won the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction in 2014.

Thomas King

In The Back of the Turtle, Gabriel returns to Smoke River, the reserve where his mother grew up and to which she returned with Gabriel's sister. The reserve is deserted after an environmental disaster killed the population, including Gabriel's family, and the wildlife.

Gabriel, a brilliant scientist working for Domidion, created GreenSweep, and indirectly led to the crisis. Now he has come to see the damage and to kill himself in the sea. But as he prepares to let the water take him, he sees a young girl in the waves. Plunging in, he saves her, and soon is saving others. Who are these people with their long black hair and almond eyes who have fallen from the sky? (From HarperCollins Canada)

The Back of the Turtle won the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction in 2014.

Read an excerpt | Author interviews | More about this book

From the book

He turned towards the eastern mountains, angled the drum to catch the rising sun, and began a memorial song. But the elk skin was too soft now, too damp. The beats slid off, and his voice was drowned in the rushing water. In the distance, he could see the dog laid out on higher ground.

And in that moment, in that moment, he thought about retreating once again.

But the path back was only a memory now, all safety choked off as the sea ringed the Apostles in ink and foam.

He began the song anew, picking up the beat and raising the pitch, so that his voice carried above the slicing surf. The sun was full in his face now, the sky blue and polished. It was going to be a good day.


From The Back of the Turtle by Thomas King ©2014. Published by HarperCollins Canada.

Author interviews 

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. 40:13

More about this book