2020 is sure to be another award-winning year for literature from Indigenous authors in Canada and the US. As a subscriber to Raven Reads, you'll receive great reads by Indigenous authors but there are SO many books that we can't fit them all in! To ensure you don’t miss out on one of these potential big sellers we have compiled a short list of some upcoming pieces that we think you may enjoy.
Looking for books appropriate for kids? Download our list of 75 Kids Books by Indigenous Authors.
The Audacity of His Enterprise by M. Max Hamon
Louis Riel (1844–1885) was an iconic figure in Canadian history best known for his roles in the Red River Resistance of 1869 and the Northwest Resistance of 1885. Questioning the drama of resistance, The Audacity of His Enterprise highlights Riel's part in the negotiations, petition claims, and legal battles that led to the formation of the state from the bottom up.1
I Will See You Again by Lisa Boivin
When the author learns of the death of her brother overseas, she embarks on a journey to bring him home. Through memories and dreams of all they shared together and through her Dene traditions, she finds comfort and strength. The lyrical art and story leave readers with a universal message of hope and love.2
Northwest Resistance Vermette, Katherena
The third graphic novel in the A Girl Called Echoseries, Northwest Resistance, follows Echo Desjardins and her travels through time. Going back to 1884, Echo finds herself in the thick of a new Métis resistance led by leader Louis Riel, who has returned from exile to resist encroaching forces from the East and to ensure his people’s rights are honoured. For Echo, the experience is empowering, focusing her own identity and giving her the strength to confront the challenges in her life.3
Before the Usual Time by Darlene Naponse
A collection of words and imagery from diverse voices grounded in the land that explore community in relation to time. Filmmaker/writer, Darlene Naponse, curates a gathering of expression about time that has passed, time that is now and time that comes.4
Love After the End by Joshua Whitehead
Love After the Endis a new young adult anthology edited by Joshua Whitehead (Lambda Literary Award winner, Jonny Appleseed) featuring short stories by Indigenous authors with Two-Spirit & Queer heroes in utopian and dystopian settings.Joshua Whitehead is oji-nehiyaw 2SQ otâcimow from Peguis First Nation; a ABD ph.d student at University of Calgary and author of full-metal indigiqueer(2017) & Jonny Appleseed(2018).5
The Shoe Boy by Duncan McCue
Duncan McCue's memoir of a season spent hunting on a Northern Quebec trapline as a teenager is frank, funny and evocative. It’s also a beautiful rendering of a landscape and culture few people know.A reporter for CBC’s The National, McCue is Anishinaabe— a member of the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation in southern Ontario—and currently lives in Vancouver. This is his first book.6
Looking for books appropriate for kids? Download our list of 75 Kids Books by Indigenous Authors.
How I Survived by Serapio Ittusardjuat
After his snowmobile breaks down halfway across the sea ice on a trip back from a fishing camp, Serapio Ittusardjuat recounts the traditional skills and knowledge he leaned on to stay alive.
This harrowing first-person account of four nights spent on the open sea ice--with few supplies and no water--shows young readers the determination and strength necessary to survive in the harsh Arctic climate, even when the worst occurs.8
Breakdown by David A. Robertson
Cole and Eva arrive in Winnipeg, the headquarters of Mihko Laboratories, intent on destroying the company once and for all. Their plans are thwarted when a new threat surfaces, and Cole is mired in terrifying visions. Are these visions just troubled dreams or are they leading him to a terrifying truth? And will Eva be able to harness her powers to continue the investigation without him?9
From the Roots Up by Tasha Spillett
Dez and Miikwan’s stories continue in this sequel to Surviving the City.
Dez’s grandmother has passed away. Grieving, and with nowhere else to go, she’s living in a group home. On top of everything else, Dez is navigating a new relationship and coming into her identity as a Two-Spirit person.
Miikwan is crushing on the school’s new kid Riel, but doesn’t really understand what Dez is going through. Will she learn how to be a supportive ally to her best friend?10
This Town Sleeps by Dennis E. Staples
In a novel that embodies the word “multifaceted,” Dennis E. Staples pens the story of a queer Ojibwe man living on a reservation in northern Minnesota. In his late 20s, Marion Lafournier has an on-again off-again relationship with his very closeted former high school classmate, a white man named Shannon. He accidentally resurrects the spirit of a dog buried under a playground, a ghost that leads him to the grave of another high school classmate, basketball star Kayden Kelliher. Kelliher was killed at age 17 after the rez high school won the state championships. Marion investigates the murder, while at the same time his mother finds a mummified jawbone at her grandmother’s burial site and must reckon with her own hauntings as well as her son’s. Weaving the corporeal and the spiritual, the present-day and the ancestral, This Town Sleeps has been compared to Tommy Orange’s There, There, with multiple perspectives and layered narratives. Its compelling storylines and gripping prose mark the arrival of a skilled novelist.11
Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz
Natalie Diaz is one of the most electric contemporary writers. A former pro basketball player, Diaz’s 2012 debut poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec(Copper Canyon Press), won and was a finalist for several awards, including the American Book Award. In 2019, she co-edited Bodies Built for Game(University of Nebraska Press), an anthology of sports writing that challenges every convention of what sports writing usually is. With Postcolonial Love Poem, Diaz brings her signature sharp, insightful, exquisite language to a collection about America, about future and past, pain and ecstasy. Diaz is extremely skilled at decolonizing language and narratives with her poetry. The poems here are of the body; they challenge what it means to be good in America; they are tender and tough, full of love even in their hardest corners. Diaz is a force, and we are all just lucky to live in a world where she writes.11
The Night Watchmen by Louise Erdrich
Louise Erdrich is a powerhouse writer, with almost 30 books under her belt—novels, poetry, nonfiction, children’s books, and a memoir. She’s also a multiple award winner, including the National Book Award, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She’s got a broad and loyal fanbase, and for good reason—her prose is gorgeous, and one of her greatest strengths is the ability to create rich, nuanced characters with fully realized lives, desires, needs, and drives. A Louise Erdrich novel is an event, and The Night Watchman deserves to be one. A fictionalized telling of the life of Erdrich’s grandfather, who worked as a night watchman, this book is Erdrich’s first to be set on her family’s home reservation in what is called North Dakota. It’s set in the 1950’s, a time when the US Congress was particularly active in its attempts to terminate treaties with, and rights of, Indigenous peoples. Thomas Wazhashk, the character based on Erdrich’s grandfather, leads a fight against this legislation with the help of his community. Meanwhile, Patrice Paranteau searches for her older sister Vera, who moved to Minneapolis, when Patrice hears rumors that Vera has a child. This is a very bare skeleton of the plot of this sweeping novel, but the ways in which it unfolds—with overlapping stories, relationships between characters, and themes of violence, life and death, love and justice— is sometimes surprising and always engrossing.11
Words Like Thunder: New and Used Anishinaabe Prayers by Lois Beardslee
Lois Beardslee is an award-winning Ojibwe author and artist, perhaps best known for her short story collections—2008’s The Women’s Warrior Societyand 2003’s Lies to Live By—and has a signature way of blending contemporary and traditional Indigenous stories. Words Like Thunderis structured in four parts with circling themes of strength, beauty, loss, resilience, time, family, identity, and land. Climate change and socioeconomic inequality are major pillars of this collection, calling upon the reader to listen. Indigenous ways of caring, adaptation, and healing will be crucial to human survival under climate change. This truth is one of many threads in Words Like Thunder, a collection that affects and inspires in content as much as in style—an utterly readable and beautiful work of poetry.11
Bone Black by Carol Rose GoldenEagle
If you haven’t read about the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women, it behooves you to do so. This novel, by multidisciplinary award-winning Cree artist Carol Rose GoldenEagle, is a crucial work of fiction that takes on this horrifying reality. When Wren StrongEagle’s twin sister Raven goes missing, Wren—dismissed by police—follows media reports and seeks her sister and justice. Justice is a tricky thing, and as Wren goes deeper into a darkness she finds herself both guided by spirits and traditional Indigenous knowledge; and questioning, broken in grief. This book is utterly readable and difficult to process—it’s even more difficult to put down. It’s a beautifully rendered, essential story.11
Book Description Sources:
5Kickstarter, accessed January 15, 2020, https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hopelnicholson/love-after-the-end-an-indigenous-two-spirit-anthology.
6Good Reads, accessed January 15, 2020, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30644116-the-shoe-boy.
7DCB Young Readers, accessed January 15, 2020, https://www.dcbyoungreaders.com/messenger-93.
849thShelf, accessed January 15, 2020, https://kids.49thshelf.com/Books/H/How-I-Survived.
9Portage & Main Press, accessed January 15, 2020, https://www.portageandmainpress.com/product/breakdown/.
10Portage & Main Press, accessed January 15, 2020, https://www.portageandmainpress.com/product/from-the-roots-up/.
11Sarah Neilsen, “11 of the Most Anticipated Books by Indigenous Authors For the First Half of 2020,” Literary Hub, accessed January 16, 2020, https://bookmarks.reviews/11-of-the-most-anticipated-books-by-indigenous-authors-for-the-first-half-of-2020/?fbclid=IwAR2SRKlyfEmZC6rHguq0HpEVffwrLBIwasTkHs8PXPcji0yxqWCdmSROfw0.