Book review: The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America

March 30, 2013

Tonight, I finished reading Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America (Kindle edition, on my phone).

I strongly recommend it.  King is primarily a fiction writer and a humorist and he brings that sensibility to this very serious nonfiction topic.  Not everyone could make that work but I think he does it.

He’s not pretending to provide an in-depth history of significant interactions between the first peoples of North America and those who claimed, colonized, and “settled” the continent.  To perform that task adequately would require many, many volumes.  Rather, he provides an overview laced with his observations and thoughts.  Fortunately, he’s pretty good at producing thoughts and very skilled at presenting them in a readable fashion.

I was surprised that there was no mention in this book of the case of Delgamuukw v. British Columbia.  That’s a pretty significant legal case with implications for resource extraction projects and the likes of the North Gateway Pipeline.  That’s really my only complaint about the book, though.

Before reading it, if you’re able to find some audio of him reading from his brilliant novel, Green Grass, Running Water, or listen to him on The Dead Dog Café Comedy Hour (you can find episodes on YouTube), that will be beneficial to you as you read this book.  He writes the way he speaks.  The book would probably still be very good if you don’t have his voice in your head but it’s even better if you do.

http://www.cbc.ca/books/2012/11/thomas-king-on-the-inconvenient-indian.html

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