THROUGH BLACK SPRUCE
From internationally acclaimed author Joseph Boyden comes an astonishingly powerful novel of contemporary aboriginal life, full of the dangers and harsh beauty of both forest and city. When beautiful Suzanne Bird disappears, her sister Annie, a loner and hunter, is compelled to search for her, leaving behind their uncle Will, a man haunted by loss.While Annie travels from Toronto to New York, from modelling studios to A-list parties,Will encounters dire troubles at home. Both eventually come to painful discoveries about the inescapable ties of family. Through Black Spruce is an utterly unforgettable consideration of how we discover who we really are.
When there was no Pepsi left for my rye whisky, nieces, there was always ginger ale. No ginger ale? Then I had river water. River water’s light like something between those two. And brown Moose River water’s cold. Cold like living between two colours. Like living in this town.When the whisky was Crown Royal, then brown Moose River water was a fine, fine mix.
You know I was a bush pilot.The best. But the best have to crash. And I’ve crashed a plane, me.Three times. I need to explain this all to you. I was a young man when I crashed the first time.The world was wide open. I was scared of nothing. Just before Helen and I had our oldest boy.The first time I crashed I was drunk, but that wasn’t the reason I crashed. I used to fly a bush plane better with a few drinks in me. I actually believe my eyesight improved with whisky goggles on. But sight had nothing to do with my first crash.Wait. It had everything to do with it. Snowstorm. Zero visibility. As snow blinded my takeoff from the slick runway, I got the go-ahead with a warning from the Moosonee flight tower: harder snow coming.
“Joseph Boyden’s novel is, simply, beautiful: you will lose yourself in the richness of its prose and the ever–deepening puzzles it inveigles you into. Through Black Spruce is fluent, involving fiction, and as good an advertisement as any for unforgiving wilderness living.”
—Tim Teeman, The Times
“This complex and interesting novel is all about strong family bonds.”
“a remarkable view into a lost world dismantled so brutally by the white ’wemestikushu’... Boyden guides us through customs, mythologies and rituals that attend life in the bush.”
—Times Literary Supplement
“mesmerising. In the wild, dreams are prophetic and spiritual truths revealed... his characters are most moving when revelations occur in small, quite moments.”
—Julie Wheelwright, The Independent
“It is a powerful novel of place and the ties that bind families... A fine achievement, Through Black Spruce is extraordinary.”
“love, betrayal and loss in the wild and frozen Canadian wilderness. A strangely haunting read.”
“Alternating between life at its most elemental and most decadent, Boyden’s tale skilfully reflects the Indians’ struggle to embrace modern society.”
—Anthony Gardner, Mail On Sunday
"Boyden is meticulous about details regarding weather, trapping, building a shelter, flying a small plane, the proper use of tools, surviving in a hostile environment, killing animals for food and their skins, not for sport — and the feeling of being out of place anywhere else...a poignant look at the unbreakable, demanding bonds of family."
—The Seattle Times
"Powerful and powerfully told. . .Much of this novel reflects its crisp, poetic title…Will speaks with the straight–faced good humor of Louise Erdrich’s Nanapush…in the novel’s most moving section, Will flees to live along in wilderness few people ever even see. It’s an experience beautifully rendered in the raw poetry of Boyden’s prose."
—The Washington Post
“Anguished, angry Uncle Will’s revenge drama is almost perfect in pitch and execution. Tragedy and comedy unspool together in a startlingly casual manner when Will speaks, they way they do in life. When Boyden is at his best, as he often is here, he is matchless.”
—The Minneapolis Star Tribune
“With Through Black Spruce, Boyden again immortalizes a territory dealt brilliantly by writers such as Margaret Atwood and, more recently, Stef Penney. Taking a hard look at the tenderness of beasts, it is a moving portrait of the Canadian outback.”
—The Chicago Sun Times
“Thrilling…secures Boyden’s place as a premier young writer, among those living north of the U.S. border or anywhere else.”
—The Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Readers will find themselves once again drawn into Boyden’s enchanted, troubled world of the far north, of native cultures coming into conflict with the incursion of the evils of the modern, secular world."
—New Orleans Time Picayune
"Powerful…richly textured…an intelligent, multilayered accomplishment."
"Mesmerizing…Boyden does a remarkable job of communicating the almost unbearable tension generated by attempting to reconcile the unavoidable duality of the narrators’ lives."