Thursday, March 7, 2013

Shelf Life [adult]


The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King

Readers interested in knowing the roots of the Idle No More movement need look no further than Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian. Guelph’s Thomas King may be familiar to you from his fiction (Green Grass, Running Water) or his old radio show on CBC Radio One, The Dead Dog CafĂ© Comedy Hour. Fans will be happy to know his trademark deadpan humour is captured abundantly here.

By King’s own confession, he’s not much one for nonfiction writing. Of Cherokee and Greek heritage, he teaches in the English department at University of Guelph. To get to the truth of things, he’s more comfortable using stories than facts, an admission he freely offers in the introduction. As a result, he’s positioned this work more as an account of Aboriginal/colonial relations in North America than a formal history. Formal histories require footnotes and extensive documentation. As the book makes clear, extensive documentation hasn’t done a lot of good for indigenous peoples. Stories, though? They carry a lot of truth a long way.

The account is heartbreaking, but King renders the sorrow into something intriguing and even darkly funny with his style, which echoes Native orature in its cadence. He fearlessly tackles the many facets of Aboriginal history in North America that are typically left alone for lack of an adequately politically correct vocabulary. Wide in scope and full of history we weren’t taught in school, The Inconvenient Indian is required reading for any politically savvy Canadian.

This review appears in The Stratford Gazette on March 7, 2013. Written by Shauna Thomas, Librarian.


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