It can be hard to find lists of bestselling Indigenous Canadian authors, so we made one. Here is Part Two of the current ten bestselling works of fiction by Canadian Indigenous authors.[i] Did you miss Part One? Read it here.
Son of a Trickster
Everyone knows a guy like Jared: the burnout kid in high school who sells weed cookies and has a scary mom who's often wasted and wielding some kind of weapon. Jared does smoke and drink too much, and he does make the best cookies in town, and his mom is a mess, but he's also a kid who has an immense capacity for compassion and an impulse to watch over people more than twice his age, and he can't rely on anyone for consistent love and support, except for his flatulent pit bull, Baby Killer (he calls her Baby)--and now she's dead.
Jared can't count on his mom to stay sober and stick around to take care of him. He can't rely on his dad to pay the bills and support his new wife and step-daughter. Jared is only sixteen but feels like he is the one who must stabilize his family's life, even look out for his elderly neighbours. But he struggles to keep everything afloat...and sometimes he blacks out. And he puzzles over why his maternal grandmother has never liked him, why she says he's the son of a trickster, that he isn't human. Mind you, ravens speak to him--even when he's not stoned.
You think you know Jared, but you don't.[ii]
The second book in the series, Trickster Drift, made it onto our list of must-read books releasing this year.
Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
This Accident of Being Lost: Songs and Stories
This Accident of Being Lost is the knife-sharp new collection of stories and songs from award-winning Nishnaabeg storyteller and writer Leanne Betasamosake Simpson. These visionary pieces build upon Simpson's powerful use of the fragment as a tool for intervention in her critically acclaimed collection Islands of Decolonial Love. Provocateur and poet, she continually rebirths a decolonized reality, one that circles in and out of time and resists dominant narratives or comfortable categorization. A crow watches over a deer addicted to road salt; Lake Ontario floods Toronto to remake the world while texting "ARE THEY GETTING IT?"; lovers visit the last remaining corner of the boreal forest; three comrades guerrilla-tap maples in an upper middle-class neighbourhood; and Kwe gets her firearms license in rural Ontario. Blending elements of Nishnaabeg storytelling, science fiction, contemporary realism, and the lyric voice, This Accident of Being Lost burns with a quiet intensity, like a campfire in your backyard, challenging you to reconsider the world you thought you knew.[iii]
Drew Hayden Taylor
Take Us to Your Chief: And Other Stories Paperback
Take Us to Your Chief is a collection of archetypal science-fiction stories reinvented with a contemporary First Nations outlook. The nine stories in this collection span all traditional tropes of science fiction – from peaceful aliens to hostile invaders; from space travel to time travel; from government conspiracies to connections across generations. Yet Taylor’s First Nations perspective draws fresh parallels, likening the cultural implications of alien contact to those of the arrival of Europeans to the Americas, or highlighting the impossibility of remaining a “good Native” in such an unnatural situation as a space mission. Infused with Native stories and compellingly mysterious, magical and humorous, Take Us to Your Chief is the perfect mesh of nostalgically 1950’s-esque science fiction with modern First Nations discourse.[iv]
When Stella, a young Métis mother, looks out her window one evening and spots someone in trouble on the Break — a barren field on an isolated strip of land outside her house — she calls the police to alert them to a possible crime.
In a series of shifting narratives, people who are connected, both directly and indirectly, with the victim — police, family, and friends — tell their personal stories leading up to that fateful night. Lou, a social worker, grapples with the departure of her live-in boyfriend. Cheryl, an artist, mourns the premature death of her sister Rain. Paulina, a single mother, struggles to trust her new partner. Phoenix, a homeless teenager, is released from a youth detention centre. Officer Scott, a Métis policeman, feels caught between two worlds as he patrols the city. Through their various perspectives a larger, more comprehensive story about lives of the residents in Winnipeg’s North End is exposed.
A powerful intergenerational family saga, The Break showcases Vermette’s abundant writing talent and positions her as an exciting new voice in Canadian literature.[v]
Four chronically homeless people–Amelia One Sky, Timber, Double Dick and Digger–seek refuge in a warm movie theatre when a severe Arctic Front descends on the city. During what is supposed to be a one-time event, this temporary refuge transfixes them. They fall in love with this new world, and once the weather clears, continue their trips to the cinema. On one of these outings they meet Granite, a jaded and lonely journalist who has turned his back on writing “the same story over and over again” in favour of the escapist qualities of film, and an unlikely friendship is struck.
A found cigarette package (contents: some unsmoked cigarettes, three $20 bills, and a lottery ticket) changes the fortune of this struggling set. The ragged company discovers they have won $13.5 million, but none of them can claim the money for lack proper identification. Enlisting the help of Granite, their lives, and fortunes, become forever changed.
Ragged Company is a journey into both the future and the past. Richard Wagamese deftly explores the nature of the comforts these friends find in their ideas of “home,” as he reconnects them to their histories.[vi]
To learn more about Richard Wagamese, read our Spotlight on Indigenous Canadian Authors. He also writes mystery novels under the name Thomas King, who is on Part One of our list.
There you have it - the top ten (current) best-selling works of fiction by Indigenous Canadian authors. How many have you read?
[i]This list is based on information from Amazon.ca on June 1, 2018
[ii]Summary and image from CBC
[iii]Summary and image from House of Anansi
[iv]Summary and image from Drew Hayden Taylor’s Website
[v]Summary and image from House of Anansi
[vi]Summary and image from Penguin Random House