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Stories in a New Skin: Approaches to Inuit Literature

In an age where southern power-holders look north and see only vacant polar landscapes, isolated communities, and exploitable resources, it is important to point out that the Inuit homeland is, in fact, united by extensive philosophical, political, and literary traditions. Stories in a New Skin is a seminal text that confirms the “national” scope of Inuit literature and introduces a model for Inuit literary criticism. Author Keavy Martin analyzes writing and storytelling from a range of genres and historical periods – the classic stories and songs of the oral tradition, life writing, oral histories, and contemporary fiction, poetry, and film – and discusses the ways in which these texts constitute a national literary tradition. She highlights characteristics of Inuit intellectual discourse, demonstrates potential approaches to the material, and introduces ways of drawing methodologies from the texts themselves.

"Martin has listened carefully to indigenous authors and critics who have for decades argued that their literature should be analyzed on its own terms, according to tribal and community perspectives and in keeping with indigenous knowledges. While Martin is not Inuit, she has gone to great lengths to visit the Far North, learn Inuktitut, and live for periods of time among the people. This lived experience, combined with her excellent literary theoretical and analytical skills, has produced this gorgeous book. In it Martin brings new perspectives to published and oral texts. As she argues, the most appropriate and sophisticated approach to Inuit stories is to recognize how both tradition and adaptation have shaped them."— Jury's Comments, 2012 Gabrielle Roy Prize