This isn’t a long, formal book review, just a heads up about a fabulous book. I am so thrilled that Canadian Meti writer, Joseph Boyden has won the Giller Prize for his novel Through Black Spruce. I read it a few weeks ago and was entirely enthralled in a way that I haven’t been, well, since I read Boyden’s last (and first) novel, Three Day Road. I finished both of them sadly because I just wasn’t ready to leave Boyden’s engaging worlds.
Boyden is young but his writing and story telling abilities are old if you know what I mean. I can hear his characters’ voices, I can see their faces, I’d know them if I ran into them on the street. I can see the bush, the town, the buildings and streets of New York, everything is just so well drawn.
If I tell you that that main character is in a coma for most of the book, you may think I’m crazy to be talking about well drawn characters and perfectly described settings, but it’s true. Boyden brings Will Bird, the Cree bush pilot, to life in every dimension you can imagine. We learn about Will’s long hard life in Ontario’s far North and we also learn about Will’s niece, Annie. Annie’s journey of self-discovery and search for her sister, Suzanne, takes her and the reader from the Far North to the streets of New York and the world of high fashion modeling. Opposite worlds? Perhaps, but the stories weave together seamlessly.
Since winning the Giller, I’ve heard Boyden on radio several times. I also attended a reading just before the Giller was announced. He does say that he is trying to open the First Nations peoples’ and their stories to his readers. He does so with out being even remotely preachy or moralistic. The story is for everyone and anyone.
We have three copies of the book in the Library @ Mohawk if I’ve grabbed your interest, take one out.