Books

Tomson Highway to pay tribute to his birthplace in memoir due out in fall 2022

Titled Permanent Astonishment, the new memoir documents the Cree writer's life living along the Manitoba/Nunavut border.
Tomson Highway is a Cree playwright, novelist and children's author. (Sean Howard)

Cree writer and performing artist Tomson Highway has penned a memoir entitled Permanent Astonishment.

In a news release, Permanent Astonishment is described as a celebration of Highway's birthplace — northern Manitoba, at its shared border with Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories and what is now Nunavut.

Highway is a member of the Barren Lands First Nation and the son of a caribou hunter and dogsled racer and bead-worker and quilt-maker.

The book is a look at how the sly humour of Cree culture and the shape-shifting qualities of the language itself enabled the Cree people to survive conquest.

"I was born in the most beautiful place on the face of the planet.… A region of the world blessed by nature a thousand times, its remoteness ensures its status as the world's best-kept secret," said Highway in a statement.

Permanent Astonishment is set for release in fall 2022 by Doubleday Canada.

Many prominent Indigenous people are declining to celebrate Canada 150, but not Tomson Highway. The Cree writer and musician is a trailblazer, a champion of native languages, a proud Canadian - and the most relentlessly positive person imaginable. 15:04

"So many people through the course of my life have shown me such kindness, generosity and love that I will do anything to thank them … with beauty," said Highway of his decision to write this memoir.

Highway's The Rez Sisters and Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing are considered classics of theatre in Canada and winners of the Dora Mavor Moore Awards and Floyd S. Chalmers Awards.

He published his debut novel Kiss of the Fur Queen in 1998. He is also the author of three children's novels: Caribou Song, Dragon Fly Kites and Fox on the Ice.

The playwright, novelist and children's author was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1994.

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