There are many best-seller lists out there, but have you ever wondered who the bestselling Indigenous Canadian authors are? We did, too, so we have compiled the current ten bestselling works of fiction by Canadian Indigenous authors for you.[i] Here are the first five. Enjoy!
Indians Don't Cry: Gaawiin Mawisiiwag Anishinaabeg
George Kenny is an Anishinaabe poet and playwright who learned traditional ways from his parents before being sent to residential school in 1958. When Kenny published his first book, 1977’s Indians Don’t Cry, he joined the ranks of Indigenous writers such as Maria Campbell, Basil Johnston, and Rita Joe whose work melded art and political action. Hailed as a landmark in the history of Indigenous literature in Canada, this new edition is expected to inspire a new generation of Anishinaabe writers with poems and stories that depict the challenges of Indigenous people confronting and finding ways to live within urban settler society.[ii]
The Red Power Murders: A DreadfulWater Mystery
Thumps DreadfulWater has never liked surprises—even the good ones are annoying. So it’s no shock that a string of seemingly random occurrences is causing Thumps some real discomfort. First Noah Ridge, the Red Power Native activist, arrives in Thumps’ sleepy town of Chinook. Then the body of a retired FBI agent turns up at the local Holiday Inn. In the background hovers the ghostly presence of Lucy Kettle, second-in-charge of the Red Power movement, a tough woman in a tough place until her disappearance years ago. Now the sheriff wants Thumps to trade in his photography gig for a temporary cop beat. And it won’t be over, Thumps soon realizes, until everyone’s dead—or famous.[iii]
The Outside Circle: A Graphic Novel
In this important graphic novel, two Aboriginal brothers surrounded by poverty, drug abuse, and gang violence, try to overcome centuries of historic trauma in very different ways to bring about positive change in their lives.
Pete, a young Aboriginal man wrapped up in gang violence, lives with his younger brother, Joey, and his mother who is a heroin addict. One night, Pete and his mother’s boyfriend, Dennis, get into a big fight, which sends Dennis to the morgue and Pete to jail. Initially, Pete keeps up ties to his crew, until a jail brawl forces him to realize the negative influence he has become on Joey, which encourages him to begin a process of rehabilitation that includes traditional Aboriginal healing circles and ceremonies.
Powerful, courageous, and deeply moving, The Outside Circle is drawn from the author’s twenty years of work and research on healing and reconciliation of gang-affiliated or incarcerated Aboriginal men.[iv]
Mink is a witness, a shape shifter, compelled to follow the story that has ensnared Celia and her village, on the West coast of Vancouver Island in Nuu’Chahlnuth territory.
Celia is a seer who — despite being convinced she’s a little “off” — must heal her village with the assistance of her sister, her mother and father, and her nephews.
While mink is visiting, a double-headed sea serpent falls off the house front during a fierce storm. The old snake, ostracized from the village decades earlier, has left his terrible influence on Amos, a residential school survivor. The occurrence signals the unfolding of an ordeal that pulls Celia out of her reveries and into the tragedy of her cousin’s granddaughter.
Each one of Celia’s family becomes involved in creating a greater solution than merely attending to her cousin’s granddaughter.
Celia’s Song relates one Nuu’Chahlnuth family’s harrowing experiences over several generations, after the brutality, interference, and neglect resulting from contact with Europeans.[v]
David Alexander Robertson
7 Generations: A Plains Cree Saga
Edwin is facing an uncertain future. Only by learning about his family’s past—as warriors, survivors of a smallpox epidemic, casualties of a residential school—will he be able to face the present and embrace the future.
7 Generations: A Plains Cree Saga is an epic 4-part graphic novel. Illustrated in vivid colour, the story follows one Aboriginal family over three centuries and seven generations.[vi]
Are you as excited about this list as we are? You can learn more about the authors Lee Maracle and Thomas King in our Spotlight on Indigenous Canadian Authors. And, if you can't wait - hop on over to Part Two of this list.
[i]This list is based on information from Amazon.ca on June 1, 2018
[ii]Summary and image from University of Manitoba Press
[iii] Summary from Harper Collins
[iv]Summary and image from House of Anansi
[v]Summary and image from Cormorant Books
[vi]Summary and image from DA Robertson’s Website