Unreserved's holiday book list
To round up this year in literature, Unreserved reached out to Indigenous authors behind some of the hottest books of the year to find out what they were reading in 2020.
Waubgeshig Rice recommends Five Little Indians
This year, Waubgeshig Rice was part of the jury for the Writers' Trust Award for fiction, which meant he had to read 123 books by Canadian authors, in seven months.
Rice is a former journalist and the author of the award-winning novel, Moon of the Crusted Snow.
The book that stood out for him, and one that was shortlisted for the Writers' Trust Award, is Five Little Indians by Michelle Good. The fictional tale follows five residential school survivors as they navigate living in Vancouver after their time in residential school.
For Rice, he found it particularly interesting that the book is a work of fiction that explores the legacy of residential schools, and is not a memoire.
"In nonfiction and memoir, there is a canon already of Indigenous literature about the residential school experience, but there isn't a whole lot of fiction yet. And I think Michelle just really hit it out of the park with Five Little Indians," said Rice.
"It really broadens that perspective and it provides that nuance in that deeper context that I think we all really need to read, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike."
Michelle Good recommends The Night Watchman
For Nehiyaw Plains Cree author Michelle Good, the book that stood out to her was The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich.
The book is based on the life of Erdrich's grandfather who worked as a night watchman, and took the fight against Native Americans being dispossessed of land in North Dakota, all the way to Washington, D.C.
"Louise Erdrich is the queen of braided narrative, she can bring in 15 characters in a book … and it's [what] draws me to her writing all the time," said Good.
"It's the braided narrative and the way … she brings history into the modern day so that we have that continuity of, you know, where her story starts and where it's come to."
Darcie Little Badger recommends The Only Good Indians
Darcie Little Badger is a prolific writer of speculative fiction and horror, and this year released her first YA novel, Elatsoe.
It's getting rave reviews, and was featured in Time Magazine's list of 100 best fantasy novels of all time.
For fans of horror, Little Badger recommends The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones, which follows four young Native American boys who kill elk, and years later have to deal with something stalking them.
"It's a really creepy story, I won't give too much away, but it involves scary elves, which I love," said Little Badger.
"Also, his body of work in general, he has a lot of scary short stories, novellas, [and] novels to explore."
Another book of his Little Badger recommends is Night of the Mannequins.