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Nov 28, 2014
Aboriginal writers in Canada have seen waves of success before, but some industry members believe the current wave could make a bigger impact on Canadian readers and literature than any in the past.
More than 100,000 copies of Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America have been shipped by Random House of Canada since it was published in late 2012. Sales, brisk right after publication, were bolstered when it won both the RCB Taylor Prize and the BC National Award for Canadian Nonfiction in 2014. Joseph Boyden’s novel The Orenda, about the clash among the Huron, Iroquois, and French in the 17th century, was overlooked for major literary prizes—but it did win the 2013 CBC Radio Canada Reads competition as a book to “change our nation” and the Canadian Booksellers Association’s Libris Award for Fiction, and now it has more than 200,000 copies in print.
King and Boyden are stars, but there are many more authors and books that have made this an important moment in First Nations literature. Katherena Vermette won the 2013 Governor General’s Award for poetry for her collection North End Love Songs. Talonbooks publisher Kevin Williams said a big reason their sales were up 33% in 2013 (compared to 2012) is the success of Chief Bev Sellar’s memoir, They Called Me Number One, about surviving one of Canada’s notorious Indian Residential Schools, which many generations of native children were forced to attend.
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