Books

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline sells 100,000 copies in Canada, enters 20th print run

The YA novel was first published in 2017 and went on to be defended on Canada Reads 2018, win the Governor General's Literary Award and the U.S. Kirkus Prize.
Cherie Dimaline is the author of the YA novel The Marrow Thieves. (CBC)

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline has sold 100,000 copies in Canada. The book's publisher, Cormorant Books, announced that the YA novel was entering its 20th printing since first being published in 2017.

The Marrow Thieves is set in the near future where Earth has been ravaged by climate change and a new iteration of residential schools has sprung up. Protagonist Frenchie is a highly resourceful teenager heading north with a group of fellow Indigenous people — fleeing school recruiters hoping to harvest their bone marrow for its ability to restore dreams to dreamless, non-Indigenous masses. 

The YA novel was #1 bestselling Canadian book in independent booksellers across Canada in 2018.

It was defended by singer Jully Black on Canada Reads 2018. 

Canada Reads panellists Mozhdah Jamalzadah, Jully Black and Greg Johnson discuss why The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline should be mandatory reading for Canadian schools. 1:52

It also won the Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — textthe Kirkus Prize for Young Readersthe CODE Burt Award for Indigenous young adult literature and the young adult category of the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic

It is also being adapted for television; Dimaline is writing the first season and acting as executive producer for the series.

According to data from BookNet Canada, more than 40 Canadian-authored titles have sold more than 100,000 copies since they started tracking this data in 2005, but note that their data only accounts for 85 per cent of the marketplace.

Other notable books to surpass the 100,000 mark include Canada Reads 2009 winner, The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill, Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya, The Testaments by Margaret Atwood and Canada Reads 2017 winner Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis.

"I continue to be shocked and grateful for the success this book has enjoyed. I never imagined it would take me around the world, win awards and change the curriculum in so many Canadian schools. There is no way I could have even begun to understand how things were going to change when I wrote the short story that would become The Marrow Thieves for an anthology in 2015," Dimaline said to CBC Books in an email.

"I'm happy to say that The Marrow Thieves journey is just beginning."

Dimaline's most recent book is a novel for adults titled Empire of Wild. Inspired by the Métis legend of the werewolf-like Rougarou, the book follows Joan, a broken-hearted woman whose husband disappeared a year ago — only to return with a new name and with no memory of his past. 

Empire of Wild was published in 2019.

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