Guess what?! It’s First Nations Public Library Week and we are excited! First, let us point you to this great website that features information about First Nations libraries and the important work they do in communities across the province:
In addition to supporting and promoting language revitalization efforts, this week is about celebrating “First Nation peoples and cultures, past and present.” This is why we’re excited! We get to share a list of awesome books, and you know how much we love to talk about books!
There There by Tommy Orange
This particular list came out of an “If you like this … read this …” list based on Tommy Orange’s debut. There There features a cacophony of stories that collide in a stunning and tragic moment. Orange’s writing is powerful and persuasive and it will be fascinating to see what comes next.
If you like There There, we suggest the following novels because they are also written by award-winning talented people who are Indigenous. I’ve chosen these titles because of the beautiful varieties of stories told. All these books feature an emphasis on craft and highlight some of the best of contemporary #IndigenousLit.
Starlight by Richard Wagamese
Starlight is beautiful and compelling and tragic and hopeful. Written with strength and vulnerability, it is a true gift to readers. This posthumously published book has been carefully preserved and left unfinished. No one tries to write an ending for Wagamese; instead, we have his vision of a novel that is breathtaking in its descriptions of the forest and our relationship to the natural world.
The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich
This is one of my all time faves. It is surprising and serious and silly and subtle all at once. This book is like no other I have read before or since. I love the portrait of a community and find myself getting carried away into Little No Horse each time I reread the book. If you enjoy Erdrich’s writing, you’re in luck because she has published fifteen novels and a number of children’s books and short stories.
Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson
I have loved Eden Robinson’s work for many years and this new trilogy was worth the wait! Her writing is so compelling. Robinson’s characters are hurting and the relationships they share are both complicated and complex. The stunning cover reflects the imagery and the mystery Robinson’s writing holds. If you want to keep reading Jared’s story, book two is Trickster Drift. Book three is still in the works. Coming soon, I hope!
Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot
I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) in a Goodreads Giveaway and then promptly told everyone who would listen to read this book. I was so moved by this unbelievably brave memoir. I am in awe of the way Terese Marie Mailhot manages to oscillate between stunningly crafted sentences and stark moments of confession. Heart Berries is a meditation on existence, recognition, and pain.
A Girl Called Echo by Katherena Vermette
A Girl Called Echo is the first graphic novel in a series by Katherena Vermette illustrated by Scott B. Henderson. I’m a big fan so far! It is super diverse and many people and identities are represented here. Not to mention the artwork is absolutely stunning! If you enjoy Echo’s tale of time travel, check out book two called Red River Resistance.
Dreadfulwater by Thomas King
Thomas King is another author I have loved for years and I am SO late to this party … who knew he writes mysteries?! I really love King’s dry sense of humour and I delighted at the unexpected giggles. If you enjoy Dreadfulwater, you’re in luck because there are already four books out and the fifth is scheduled to be released early next year.
The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
You may already be familiar with multiple award-winner Marrow Thieves since it was the One Book One London selection this year. It is a young adult novel that tackles racism, trauma, and apocalypse while highlighting the ability of people to survive and hope under horrifying circumstances. Frenchie and his crew give new meaning to the words “resistance” and “community” in this haunting narrative.
Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq
You may know Tanya Tagaq as a Polaris Prize and Juno award winning singer. Her genre bending first book is outstanding. It is challenging and careful and so brutally honest that at times it is like a punch in the gut. This book is truly sublime in the original sense of the word: beautiful and terrifying. I had high hopes and I was not disappointed. There were so many moments where this story took my breath away.
You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie
This unique memoir is told in the form of essays, poems, photos, and tears. It is a beautiful and compelling portrait of a complex and fractured relationship. Perhaps the best way to summarize is to quote a line from the first page: “I didn’t grow up in a dream house. I lived in a wooden improvisation.” Full of contradictions, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me is a journey through grief.
Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead
A book about a “young Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer and NDN glittery princess???” YES PLEASE!!! I was absolutely floored by this Whitehead’s honesty. The way he describes the confluence of love and pain is so bold that it is at once complex and stunningly simple. I wasn’t at all surprised to hear that Whitehead is a fan of Eden Robinson because I feel like Jared and Jonny would be fast friends.