CBC Canada Reads announced its longlist of books for 2016 along with this year’s theme of “starting over.” The longlist includes Alberta author Tracey Lindberg, the first Aboriginal woman in Canada to complete her graduate law degree at Harvard University, and her debut novel, Birdie . The shortlist (and the on-air discussion around it) will be revealed in March.
Birdie by Tracey Lindberg
Birdie is a darkly comic and moving first novel by Tracey Lindberg about the universal experience of recovering from wounds of the past, informed by the lore and knowledge of Cree traditions. Bernice Meetoos, a Cree woman, leaves her home in Northern Alberta following tragedy and travels to Gibsons, BC. She is on something of a vision quest, seeking to understand the messages from The Frugal Gourmet (one of the only television shows available on CBC North) that come to her in her dreams. She is also driven by the leftover teenaged desire to meet Pat Johns, who played Jesse on The Beachcombers, because he is, as she says, a working, healthy Indian man. Bernice heads for Molly’s Reach to find answers but they are not the ones she expected.
With the arrival in Gibsons of her Auntie Val and her cousin Skinny Freda, Bernice finds the strength to face the past and draw the lessons from her dreams that she was never fully taught in life. Part road trip, dream quest and travelogue, the novel touches on the universality of women’s experience, regardless of culture or race.
About the Author
A graduate of the University of Saskatchewan, Harvard University and the University of Ottawa law schools, she is the first Aboriginal woman in Canada to complete her graduate law degree at Harvard. Lindberg won the Governor General’s Award in 2007 upon convocation for her dissertation “Critical Indigenous Legal Theory”.
She is an award-winning academic writer and teaches Indigenous studies and Indigenous law at two universities in Canada. She sings the blues loudly, talks quietly and is next in a long line of argumentative Cree women. Birdie is her first novel.
The coming-of-age novel is a literary staple, for good reason: the passage from childhood to adulthood resonates for all of us, even if a story’s specifics are remote from our own experience. But in recent decades a dark variation of the genre has emerged, one that reflects a reality endured by many women (and some men). That reality is sexual abuse, and its painful legacy is central to novels such as Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Camilla Gibb’s Mouthing the Words and Richard Wagamese’s Indian Horse.
Read the rest of the review published in the Toronto Star: http://www.thestar.com
See the complete longlist for Canada Reads 2016: http://www.cbc.ca/books