The Next Chapter

Why writing a post-apocalyptic novel felt more fact than fiction for Waubgeshig Rice

The CBC host and author discusses writing his novel, Moon of the Crusted Snow.
A composite photo of a book cover, featuring a snowed in car in a field, and the book's author, a 40something man with two long braids.
Moon of the Crusted Snow is a book by Waubgeshig Rice. (ECW Press)

This interview originally aired on Dec. 3, 2018.

Waubgeshig Rice is a novelist and host of the CBC Radio show Up North. His novel Moon of the Crusted Snow is a dystopian drama about a northern Anishinaabe community facing dwindling resources and rising panic after their electrical power grid shuts down during a cold winter. While the community tries to maintain order, forces from outside and within threaten to destroy the reserve.

Apocalypse now

"I've always been intrigued by post-apocalyptic stories that we see in the mainstream. I was turned on to the genre by books like The Chrysalids and The Lord of the Flies in high school. It wasn't until I read The Road by Cormac McCarthy that I thought a story like this would be interesting from an Indigenous perspective."

Delayed reaction

"In the North and remote places away from large city hubs, the aftermath of an apocalyptic event might be less apparent. If all electronic communication went down on a global level, you wouldn't really know unless somebody travelled to wherever you are — and that's what happens in the book."

Real world parallels

"A lot of Indigenous communities, like the one in this story, are overcoming the negative, brutal effects of being colonized. This includes being displaced from their homelands, having children taken away, being shamed out of their culture and being legislated out of their culture in many ways. There's a healing process that's ongoing. I think that's prevalent in a lot of First Nations in Canada today."

Waubgeshig Rice's comments have been edited for length and clarity.