Ryersonian Book Club: Through Black Spruce, by Joseph Boyden

Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden (Illustration: Matt Oxman / Ryersonian).

Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden (Illustration: Matt Oxman / The Ryersonian).

Title: Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden

Genre: Native fiction/drama

Pages: 407

About the author: Joseph Boyden is one of Canada’s leading native authors, joining the ranks of Tomson Highway, Thomas King and Lee Maracle. He is best known for his first novel Three Day Road, as well as for his most recent work The Orenda – but Through Black Spruce won the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2008, and you need to read it now.

Plot: The story follows a split format, alternating between characters Will Bird and his niece Annie. While Will tells his tragic story while lying in a coma in a hospital, Annie rises up the ranks as a fashion model while searching for her sister Suzanne, who has suddenly and mysteriously disappeared. As the plot develops, the stories begin to connect, creating a beautiful, captivating mess.

Why you should read it: Though Boyden’s latest novel The Orenda is gathering buzz, Through Black Spruce serves as a good introduction to his threaded narrative style. The novel also promotes diverse portrayals of contemporary indigenous people (yes, we can be fashion models and hunt).

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