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Eden Robinson

I was born on the same day as Edgar Allan Poe and Dolly Parton: January 19. I am absolutely certain that this affects my writing in some way.

One of Eden Robinson's biggest literary influences has been Stephen King, whose books she read compulsively between the ages of ten and fourteen, when she started writing her own stories. "I was a bookworm, right from the beginning. When I got bored of classes, I'd skip them and go to the library." Later, studying creative writing at the University of Victoria, Eden says she flunked in fiction and blossomed in poetry. "My first-year poetry professor was Robin Skelton. He was a bit late for class and showed up wearing a pentagram ring. I thought 'hey, cool.'"

As a young writer, Eden Robinson shares some literary territory with the likes of Michelle Berry, Michael Turner, Evelyn Lau and Andrew Pyper, none of whom shirks from portraying the bleaker sides of growing up in the seventies and eighties. As a Native Canadian writer, Robinson joins the ranks of novelists Thomas King, Tomson Highway, Richard Wagamese and Lee Maracle, non-fiction author and poet Gregory Scofield, and playwrights Daniel David Moses and Drew Hayden Taylor in describing Native traditions and modern realities with beautiful, honest language and biting black humour.

Robinson grew up with her older brother and younger sister (CBC-TV anchor Carla Robinson) in Haisla territory near Kitamaat Village, surrounded by the forests and mountains of the central coast of British Columbia. They were children of a mixed marriage, her Haisla father met her Heiltsuk mother during a stop in Bella Bella in his fishing days. Kitamaat, a Tsimshian word meaning “people of the falling snow, (and not to be confused with nearby Kitimat town), is home to seven hundred members of the Haisla nation, with another eight hundred or so living off-reserve.

After earning her B.A., Eden Robinson moved to Vancouver to look for work that would allow her to spend time writing. A late-night writer, she ended up taking a lot of McJobs, janitor, mail clerk, napkin ironer. She decided to enter the masters program at the University of British Columbia after having a short story published in its literary magazine PRISM international. Traplines was the young woman's first book, a collection of dark and brutal stories that feature a deadpan, gritty humour. While Eden was finishing work on the book, her paternal grandmother died; Eden feels the knowledge of real grief affected her writing. The book was published in 1996 and won the UK's Winifred Holtby prize.

Eden holed herself up in her Vancouver apartment to write Monkey Beach. Though she had written a novella before (Traplines is composed of just four stories, one over 100 pages long), Eden had to work hard at the structuring of her first novel. The result is compelling and complex; The Washington Post called it "artfully constructed}; National Post deemed it "intricately patterned." Critics in the US, the UK and Canada were unanimous in their appreciation of the book.

Eden Robinson has become one of Canada's first female Native writers to gain international attention, making her an important role model. Monkey Beach evinces a love of her culture, Robinson maintains that if you don't grow up on Oolichan grease, you're not going to learn to love it, never mind make it; and if you grow up on supermarket vegetables, you're not going to learn when and where to find salmonberry shoots. She has used her celebrity to draw attention in Time magazine to the Canadian government's chipping away at Native health care, and to the lack of subsidized housing for urban Natives. This limited housing leads to overcrowding on reserves, where there is little access to jobs. Robinson argues that Natives forfeited rights and land for just these types of government services. Eden Robinson has been a Writer-in-Residence at the Whitehorse Public Library, and will be working with the Writers in Electronic Residence program, which links schools across the country with professional writers. She enjoys travelling, and supported herself with travel writing in Europe before the publication of Monkey Beach.

Son of a Trickster (PB)
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Haisla (Kitamaat);
Grade Levels: 11; 12; University/College;

Shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize: With striking originality and precision, Eden Robinson, the author of the classic Monkey Beach and winner of the Writers’ Trust of Canada Fellowship, blends humour with heartbreak in this compelling coming-of-age novel. Everyday teen existence meets indigenous beliefs, crazy family dynamics, and cannibalistic river otters...The exciting first novel in her trickster trilogy.

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.

Reviews
“Eden Robinson’s Son of a Trickster is a novel that shimmers with magic and vitality, featuring a compelling narrator, somewhere between Holden Caulfield and Harry Potter. Just when you think Jared’s teenage journey couldn’t be more grounded in gritty, grinding reality, his addled perceptions take us into a realm beyond his small-town life, somewhere both seductive and dangerous. Energetic, often darkly funny, sometimes poignant, this is a book that will resonate long after the reader has devoured the final page.” —2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize jury (André Alexis, Anita Rau Badami, Lynn Coady, and Richard Beard)

Educator & Series Information
This is the first book in Eden Robinson's Trickster Trilogy.

Grades 11-12 BC English First Peoples resource for the unit What Creates Family. 

Note: This novel contains mature subject matter, such as drug use and depictions of sex and violence.

Additional Information
336 pages | 5.20" x 8.00"

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
$21.00

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The Sasquatch at Home
Format: Paperback

In March 2010 the Canadian Literature Centre hosted award-winning novelist and storyteller Eden Robinson at the 4th annual Henry Kreisel Lecture. Robinson shared an intimate look into the intricacies of family, culture, and place through her talk, "The Sasquatch at Home." Robinson's disarming honesty and wry irony shine through her depictions of her and her mother's trip to Graceland, the potlatch where she and her sister received their Indian names, how her parents first met in Bella Bella (Waglisla, British Columbia) and a wilderness outing where she and her father try to get a look at b'gwus, the Sasquatch. Readers of memoir, Canadian literature, Aboriginal history and culture, and fans of Robinson's delightful, poignant, sometimes quirky tales will love The Sasquatch at Home.

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
$10.95

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Monkey Beach
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Haisla (Kitamaat);
Grade Levels: 10; 11; 12; University/College;

Eden Robinson's first book, a collection of stories titled Traplines, earned high praise from critics: "Expertly rendered" (New York Times Book Review), and "Captured my attention and permeated my subconscious" (Toronto Globe and Mail). The book was named a New York Times Notable and won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize from the Royal Society of Literature.
Robinson''s mastery is confirmed in Monkey Beach, the first full-length work of fiction by a Haisla writer and an unforgettable story set in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. This powerful novel reminds us that places, as much as people, have stories to tell.

Five hundred miles north of Vancouver is Kitamaat, an Indian reservation in the homeland of the Haisla people. Growing up a tough, wild tomboy, swimming, fighting, and fishing in a remote village where the land slips into the green ocean on the edge of the world, Lisamarie has always been different. Visited by ghosts and shapeshifters, tormented by premonitions, she can''t escape the sense that something terrible is waiting for her. She recounts her enchanted yet scarred life as she journeys in her speedboat up the frigid waters of the Douglas Channel. She is searching for her brother, dead by drowning, and in her own way running as fast as she can toward danger.

Circling her brother''s tragic death are the remarkable characters that make up her family: Lisamarie''s parents, struggling to join their Haisla heritage with Western ways; Uncle Mick, a Native rights activist and devoted Elvis fan; and the headstrong Ma-ma-oo (Haisla for "grandmother"), a guardian of tradition.

Haunting, funny, and vividly poignant, Monkey Beach gives full scope to Robinson''s startling ability to make bedfellows of comedy and the dark underside of life. Informed as much by its lush living wilderness as by the humanity of its colorful characters, Monkey Beach is a profoundly moving story about childhood and the pain of growing older--a multilayered tale of family grief and redemption.

Educator Information
Grades 10-12 BC English First Peoples resource.

Note: This novel contains mature subject matter such as drug use and depictions of sex and violence.

Additional Information
384 pages | 5.14" x 8.00"

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
$21.00

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Traplines
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian;
Grade Levels: 10; 11;

From Canada's internationally acclaimed "Generation X laureate" (The New York Times) come four unforgettable stories told with icy clarity and great heart. This is a world in which fast food, banged-up cars and the grunge of modern adolescence barely camouflage the dark extremes of sex, fear and desire and the longing for love.

Educator Information
Recommended Grades: 10-11.

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
$22.00

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Trickster Drift
Format: Hardcover
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Haisla (Kitamaat);
Grade Levels: 11; 12; University/College;

Following the Scotiabank Giller Prize-shortlisted Son of a Trickster comes Trickster Drift, the second book in Eden Robinson's captivating Trickster trilogy.

In an effort to keep all forms of magic at bay, Jared, 17, has quit drugs and drinking. But his troubles are not over: now he's being stalked by David, his mom's ex--a preppy, khaki-wearing psycho with a proclivity for rib-breaking. And his mother, Maggie, a living, breathing badass as well as a witch, can't protect him like she used to because he's moved away from Kitimat to Vancouver for school.

Even though he's got a year of sobriety under his belt (no thanks to his enabling, ever-partying mom), Jared also struggles with the temptation of drinking. And he's got to get his grades up, find a job that doesn't involve weed cookies, and somehow live peacefully with his Aunt Mave, who has been estranged from the family ever since she tried to "rescue" him as a baby from his mother. An indigenous activist and writer, Mave smothers him with pet names and hugs, but she is blind to the real dangers that lurk around them--the spirits and supernatural activity that fill her apartment.

As the son of a Trickster, Jared is a magnet for magic, whether he hates it or not--he sees ghosts, he sees the monster moving underneath his Aunt Georgina's skin, he sees the creature that comes out of his bedroom wall and creepily wants to suck his toes. He also still hears the Trickster in his head, and other voices too. When the David situation becomes a crisis, Jared can't ignore his true nature any longer.

Reviews
“As with the first book, Trickster Drift is most memorable for its set pieces. . . . The mix of sharp comedy, quick character sketches, and unsettling horror is note-perfect.” —Nathan Whitlock, Quill & Quire.

"The great strength of Trickster Drift is that humanity and empathy, but let’s be clear: there are monsters here, both human and otherwise. The novel builds to a climax that is simultaneously thrilling and thought-provoking, one which overturns much of what we have come to know. The third novel can’t come soon enough." — Robert J. Wiersema, The Star

Series Information
This is the second book in Eden Robinson's Trickster Trilogy.

Additional Information
384 pages | 6.30" x 9.31"

 

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
$32.00

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