'Ol' fashioned Ind'en magic': Ryan McMahon calls Son of a Trickster a must-read

Son of a Trickster peels back the curtain to look at the complex, messy efforts of rebuilding Indigenous life in a post-residential-school era, says Ryan McMahon, the Anishinaabe comedian, podcaster and writer championing Eden Robinson's new book in Turtle Island Reads.

Eden Robinson's 1st book in trilogy timely, humourous, steeped in humanity, says Anishinaabe comedian, writer

(Ryan McMahon)

On Wednesday, Sept. 20, CBC co-hosts Turtle Island Reads — a live public event at  McGill University's Tanna Schulich Hall, highlighting stories written by and about Indigenous Canadians.

It's an opportunity to talk about and celebrate Indigenous Canadian writers and connect readers with their stories.

Three advocates will each champion one book of fiction written by an Indigenous Canadian author and try to persuade you to make that book the next one on your reading list.

Ryan McMahon, an Anishinaabe comedian, podcaster, new media creator and soon-to-be author based in the Treaty One territory of Winnipeg, Man., will make the case for Eden Robinson's newest novel, Son of a Trickster (Knopf Canada).

Son of A Trickster is a timely, darkly humourous deep dive into the complexity of family, community and, of course, good ol' fashioned Ind'en magic!

If #Canada150 has taught us anything over the past year, it is that we are in quite the mess in this country.

Reconciliation efforts from coast to coast to coast teach us that our relationship to Canada's past is complex and often hard to look at. We're also slowly learning that the next 150 years in Canada will be equally complex and messy.

Son of a Trickster is a book whose time is now because it peels back the curtain to look at that — the complex, messy efforts of rebuilding Indigenous life in a post-residential-school era, under the weight of colonialism, in small town anywhere-in-Canada.

Magic can help — and hurt

Given the moment we're in, reflecting the humanity of Indigenous peoples is essential to Canadians better understanding who we are and who we are not.

As tough as it was, I saw my relatives and family members in these stories, in all of their complicated glory.

Eden Robinson's characters reflect the weight of the past as they struggle in the present to find a way into the future.

The protagonist in the story, Jared, is fraught with the everyday complications of being a young person growing up. At the same time, he's an empathetic and daring young man making the best out of life, given the cards he was dealt.

Robinson bends genres, twisting our minds with Jared's sometimes violent and complicated family life, and opens the doorway to the belief that sometimes a little magic can help us, but it can also hurt us.

I'm willing to take the pain in order to discover the magic Eden Robinson presents us here.

Eden Robinson's 2017 novel Son of a Trickster is the first title in a trilogy. (Knopf/Mark Raynes Roberts )

Characters with flaws, hope, fight

I'm drawn to this book as I see bits of myself in these complicated characters complete with flaws and hope and fight and struggle.

The humanity that Eden Robinson brings to these characters is the same humanity I see and experience when I travel around North America and work with Indigenous communities.

It's the same humanity that I think more non-Indigenous peoples need to understand: we want the same things in life — healthy, happy, vibrant families and communities.

Eden Robinson is a national treasure and her book is definitely the next Indigenous book you need to read. I LOVED Son of a Trickster, and I think you will too.

Spoiler alert, this is the first book in a trilogy!

I cannot wait for the next book in the series.

Turtle Island Reads takes place at Tanna Schulich Hall at McGill University, 527 Sherbrooke Street West, on Wednesday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

Find out more about CBC Montreal's special event: Turtle Island Reads.

Co-hosted by CBC's Nantali Indongo and Waubgeshig Rice, the event is a CBC collaboration with the Quebec Writers' Federation and McGill University's Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas.

Let us know you're coming by visiting our CBC Montreal Facebook Events page