An audiobook by an Indigenous Author
By Monica Tang
This month we are highlighting books by Indigenous authors that are accessible as audiobooks. We’ve also included a few bonus titles that will be releasing this Fall!
The land in so-called Canada is home to many diverse Indigenous peoples and cultures. The following titles feature authors from different nations, cultures, and geographical areas, each telling their own powerful stories. As National Day for Truth and Reconciliation approaches at the end of this month, we encourage you to read about Indigenous joy and love, not just trauma, and to continue to highlight and read Indigenous stories year-round.
The Berry Pickers by Amanda Peters - Available on Audible Canada
A four-year-old girl goes missing from the blueberry fields of Maine, sparking a tragic mystery that remains unsolved for nearly fifty years.
July 1962. A Mi’kmaq family from Nova Scotia arrives in Maine to pick blueberries for the summer. Weeks later, four-year-old Ruthie, the family’s youngest child, is seen sitting on her favourite rock at the edge of a field before mysteriously vanishing. Her six-year-old brother, Joe, who was the last person to see Ruthie, is devastated by his sister’s disappearance, and her loss ripples through his life for years to come.
In Maine, a young girl named Norma grows up as an only child in an affluent family. Her father is emotionally distant, while her mother is overprotective of Norma, who is often troubled by recurring dreams and visions that seem to be too real to be her imagination. As she grows older, Norma senses there is something her parents aren’t telling her. Unwilling to abandon her intuition, she pursues her family’s secret for decades.
A stunning debut novel, The Berry Pickers is a riveting story about the search for truth, the shadow of trauma, and the persistence of love across time.
Kukum by Michel Jean, translated by Susan Ouriou - Available on Audible Canada
A Quebec bestseller based on the life of Michel Jean’s great-grandmother that delivers an empathetic portrait of drastic change in an Innu community.
Kukum recounts the story of Almanda Siméon, an orphan raised by her aunt and uncle, who falls in love with a young Innu man despite their cultural differences and goes on to share her life with the Pekuakami Innu community. They accept her as one of their own: Almanda learns their language, how to live a nomadic existence, and begins to break down the barriers imposed on Indigenous women. Unfolding over the course of a century, the novel details the end of traditional ways of life for the Innu, as Almanda and her family face the loss of their land and confinement to reserves, and the enduring violence of residential schools.
Kukum intimately expresses the importance of Innu ancestral values and the need for freedom nomadic peoples feel to this day.
Making Love with the Land by Joshua Whitehead - Available on Audible Canada
A moving and deeply personal excavation of Indigenous beauty and passion in a suffering world.
In prose that is evocative and sensual, unabashedly queer and visceral, raw and autobiographical, Whitehead writes of an Indigenous body in pain, coping with trauma. Deeply rooted within, he reaches across the anguish to create a new form of storytelling he calls “biostory”—beyond genre, and entirely sovereign. Through this narrative perspective, Making Love with the Land recasts mental health struggles and our complex emotional landscapes from a nefarious parasite on his (and our) well-being to kin, even a relation, no matter what difficulties they present to us. Whitehead ruminates on loss and pain without shame or ridicule but rather highlights waypoints for personal transformation. Written in the aftermath of heartbreak, before and during the pandemic, Making Love with the Land illuminates this present moment in which both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people are rediscovering old ways and creating new ones about connection with and responsibility toward each other and the land.
Intellectually audacious and emotionally compelling, Whitehead shares his devotion to the world in which we live and brilliantly—even joyfully—maps his experience on the land that has shaped stories, histories, and bodies from time immemorial.
Truth Telling: Seven Conversations About Indigenous Life in Canada by Michelle Good - Available on Audible Canada
A bold, provocative examination of Canadian Indigenous issues from advocate, activist and award-winning novelist Michelle Good.
Truth Telling is a collection of essays about the contemporary Indigenous experience in Canada. From resistance and reconciliation to the resurgence and reclamation of Indigenous power, Michelle Good explores the issues through a series of personal essays.
The collection includes an expansion and update of her highly popular Globe and Mail article about “pretendians,” as well as “A History of Violence,” an essay that appeared in a book about missing and murdered women. Other pieces deal with topics such as discrimination against Indigenous children; what is meant by meaningful reconciliation; and the importance of the Indigenous literary renaissance of the 1970s.
With authority, intelligence and insight, Michelle Good delves into the human cost of colonialism, showing how it continues to underpin social institutions in Canada and prevents meaningful and substantive reconciliation.
BONUS -- And Then She Fell by Alicia Elliott - Available on Audible Canada
Available September 26, 2023
On the surface, Alice is exactly where she should be: She’s just given birth to a beautiful baby girl, Dawn; her charming husband, Steve is nothing but supportive; and they’ve recently moved into a new home in a wealthy neighborhood in Toronto. But Alice could not feel like more of an imposter. She isn’t connecting with Dawn, a struggle made even more difficult by the recent loss of her own mother, and every waking moment is spent hiding her despair from their white, watchful neighbors. Even when she does have a minute to herself, her perpetual self-doubt hinders the one vestige of her old life she has left: her goal of writing a modern retelling of the Haudenosaunee creation story.
At first, Alice is convinced her discomfort is of her own making. She has gotten everything she always dreamed of, after all. But then strange things start happening. She finds herself losing bits of time, hearing voices she can’t explain, and speaking with things that should not be talking back to her, all while her neighbors’ passive-aggressive behavior begins to morph into something far more threatening. Though Steve assures her this is all in her head, Alice cannot fight the feeling that something is very, very wrong, and that in her creation story lies the key to her and Dawn’s survival… She just has to finish it before it’s too late.
Told in Alice’s raw and darkly funny voice, And Then She Fell is an urgent and unflinching look at inherited trauma, womanhood, denial, and false allyship, which speeds to an unpredictable—and surreal—climax.
BONUS -- Moon of the Turning Leaves by Waubgeshig Rice - Available on Audible Canada
Available October 10, 2023
An epic journey to a forgotten homeland
It’s been over a decade since a mysterious cataclysm caused a permanent blackout that toppled infrastructure and thrust the world into anarchy. Evan Whitesky led his community in remote northern Ontario off the rez and into the bush, where they’ve been living off the land, rekindling their Anishinaabe traditions in total isolation from the outside world. As new generations are born, and others come of age in the world after everything, Evan’s people are in some ways stronger than ever. But resources in and around their new settlement are beginning to dry up, and the elders warn that they cannot afford to stay indefinitely.
Evan and his fifteen-year-old daughter, Nangohns, are elected to lead a small scouting party on a months-long trip to their traditional home on the north shore of Lake Huron—to seek new beginnings, and discover what kind of life—and what dangers—still exist in the lands to the south.
Moon of the Turning Leaves is Waubgeshig Rice’s exhilarating return to the world first explored in the phenomenal breakout bestseller Moon of the Crusted Snow: a brooding story of survival, resilience, Indigenous identity, and rebirth.
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