Our September Author of the Month: KATHERENA VERMETTETuesday, Sep 05, 2023 at 9:23am
KATHERENA VERMETTE (she/her) is a Red River Métis (Michif) writer from Treaty 1 territory, the heart of the Métis Nation, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Vermette received the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry for her first book, North End Love Songs. Her first novel, The Break, won several awards including the Amazon First Novel Award, and was a bestseller in Canada. Her second novel, The Strangers, won the Atwood Gibson Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Her work in children’s literature includes the graphic novel series A Girl Called Echo. Her new book is The Circle, a poignant and unwavering epic told from a constellation of Métis voices that consider the fallout when the person who connects them all goes missing.
The day that Cedar Sage Stranger has been both dreading and longing for has finally come: her sister Phoenix is getting out of prison. The effect of Phoenix’s release cascades through the community. M, the young girl whom she assaulted, is triggered by the news. Her mother, Paulina, is worried and her cousin is angry—all feel the threat of Phoenix’s release. When Phoenix is seen lingering outside the school to catch a glimpse of her son, Sparrow, the police get a call to file a report—but the next thing they know, she has disappeared.
Fierce, heartbreaking, and profound, The Circle is the third and final companion novel to her bestsellers The Break and The Strangers. Told from various perspectives, with an unforgettable voice for each chapter, the novel is masterfully structured as a Restorative Justice Circle where all gather—both the victimized and the accused—to take account of a crime that has altered the course of their lives. It considers what it means to be abandoned by the very systems that claim to offer support, how it feels to gain a sense of belonging, and the unanticipated cost of protecting those you love most.
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"The Circle is a polyphonic masterpiece." --Erika T. Wurth, author of White Horse
From the award-winning and #1 bestselling author of The Break and The Strangers comes a poignant and unwavering epic told from a constellation of Métis voices that consider the fallout when the person who connects them all goes missing
The concept was simple. You sit a bunch of people in a circle--everyone who hurt, everyone who got hurt, all affected--and let them share. Some people, it helped them heal, for sure. Others went in angry and left a different kind of angry. Learned how the blame belonged on the system, the history, the colonizer, the big things that were harder to change than one bad person.
The day that Cedar Sage Stranger has been both dreading and longing for has finally come: her sister Phoenix is getting out of prison.
The effect of Phoenix's release cascades through the community. M, the young girl whom she assaulted, is triggered by the news. Her mother, Paulina, is worried and her cousin is angry--all feel the threat of Phoenix's release. When Phoenix is seen lingering outside the school to catch a glimpse of her son, Sparrow, the police get a call to file a report--but the next thing they know, she has disappeared.
Amid accusations and plots for revenge, past grievances become a poor guide in a moment of danger, and the clumsy armature of law enforcement is no match for the community. Cedar and her and Phoenix's mother, Elsie, continue down different paths of healing, while everyone in their lives form a circle around the chaos, the calm within the storm, and the beauty in the darkness.
Fierce, heartbreaking, and profound, Vermette's The Circle is the third and final companion novel to her bestsellers The Break and The Strangers. Told from various perspectives, with an unforgettable voice for each chapter, the novel is masterfully structured as a Restorative Justice Circle where all gather--both the victimized and the accused--to take account of a crime that has altered the course of their lives. It considers what it means to be abandoned by the very systems that claim to offer support, how it feels to gain a sense of belonging, and the unanticipated cost of protecting those you love most.
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Winner of the 2017 Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award, Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction, and the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Awards. When Stella, a young Metis mother, looks out her window one evening and spots someone in trouble on the Break -- a barren field on an isolated strip of land outside her house -- she calls the police to alert them to a possible crime. In a series of shifting narratives, people who are connected, both directly and indirectly, with the victim -- police, family, and friends -- tell their personal stories leading up to that fateful night. Lou, a social worker, grapples with the departure of her live-in boyfriend. Cheryl, an artist, mourns the premature death of her sister Rain. Paulina, a single mother, struggles to trust her new partner. Phoenix, a homeless teenager, is released from a youth detention centre. Officer Scott, a Metis policeman, feels caught between two worlds as he patrols the city. Through their various perspectives a larger, more comprehensive story about lives of the residents in Winnipeg's North End is exposed. A powerful intergenerational family saga, The Break showcases Vermette's abundant writing talent and positions her as an exciting new voice in Canadian literature.
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#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER * WINNER OF THE ATWOOD GIBSON WRITERS' TRUST PRIZE FOR FICTION * NAMED #1 BOOK OF THE YEAR BY INDIGO * SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2022 MANITOBA BOOK AWARDS' CAROL SHIELDS WINNIPEG BOOK AWARD, MARGARET LAURENCE AWARD FOR FICTION, AND MCNALLY ROBINSON BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD * LONGLISTED FOR THE 2021 SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE * A GLOBE & MAIL BEST BOOK
The Strangers, a staggering intergenerational saga from from the bestselling author of The Break, explores how connected we are, even when we're no longer together--even when we're forced apart.
Cedar has nearly forgotten what her family looks like. Phoenix has nearly forgotten what freedom feels like. And Elsie has nearly given up hope. Nearly.
After time spent in foster homes, Cedar goes to live with her estranged father. Although she grapples with the pain of being separated from her mother, Elsie, and sister, Phoenix, she's hoping for a new chapter in her life, only to find herself once again in a strange house surrounded by strangers. From a youth detention centre, Phoenix gives birth to a baby she'll never get to raise and tries to forgive herself for all the harm she's caused. Elsie, struggling with addiction and determined to turn her life around, is buoyed by the idea of being reunited with her daughters and strives to be someone they can depend on. These are the Strangers, each haunted in her own way. Between flickering moments of warmth and support, the women diverge and reconnect, fighting to survive in a fractured system. Facing the distinct blade of racism from those they trusted most, they urge one another to move through the darkness, all the while wondering if they'll ever emerge safely on the other side.
A breathtaking companion to vermette's bestselling debut The Break, The Strangers brings readers into the dynamic world of the Stranger family, the strength of their bond, the shared pain in their past, and the light that beckons from the horizon. This is a searing exploration of race, class, inherited trauma, and matrilineal bonds that refuse to be broken.
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Echo Desjardins is adjusting to her new home, finding friends, and learning about Métis history. She just can't stop slipping back and forth in time. One ordinary afternoon in class, Echo finds herself transported to the banks of the Red River in the summer of 1869. All is not well in the territory as Canadian surveyors have arrived to change the face of territory, and Métis families, who have lived there for generations, are losing access to their land. As the Resistance takes hold, Echo fears for her friends and the future of her people in the Red River Valley.
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Echo Desjardins, a 13-year-old Métis girl adjusting to a new home and school, is struggling with loneliness while separated from her mother. Then an ordinary day in Mr. Bee's history class turns extraordinary, and Echo's life will never be the same. During Mr. Bee's lecture, Echo finds herself transported to another time and place--a bison hunt on the Saskatchewan prairie--and back again to the present. In the following weeks, Echo slips back and forth in time. She visits a Métis camp, travels the old fur-trade routes, and experiences the perilous and bygone era of the Pemmican Wars.
Pemmican Wars is the first graphic novel in a new series, A Girl Called Echo, by Governor General Award-winning writer, and author of Highwater Press' The Seven Teaching Stories, Katherena Vermette.
Young adult softcover
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Echo Desjardins just can't stop slipping back and forth in time.
In Northwest Resistance, Echo travels to 1885, a period of turmoil. The bison are gone, settlers from the East are arriving daily, and the Métis and First Nations of the Northwest face hunger and uncertainty as their traditional way of life is threatened. The Canadian government has ignored their petitions, but hope rises when Louis Riel returns to help. However, battles between Canadian forces and the Métis and their allies lead to defeat at Batoche. Through it all, Echo gains new perspectives about where she came from and what the future may hold.
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Winner of the 2013 Governor General's Award for Poetry. For Katherena Vermette, Winnipeg’s North End is neighbourhood of colourful birds, stately elms, and always wily rivers. It is where a brother’s disappearance is trivialized by local media and police because he is young and aboriginal. It is also where young girls share secrets, movies, cigarettes, Big Gulps and stories of love—where a young mother full of both maternal trepidation and joy watches her small daughters as they play in the park. “In North End Love Songs, Katherena Vermette uses spare language and brief, telling sketches to illuminate the aviary of a prairie neighbourhood. Vermette’s love songs are unconventional and imminent, an examination and a celebration of family and community in all weathers, the beautiful as well as the less clement conditions. This collection is a very moving tribute, to the girls and the women, the boys and the men, and the loving trouble that has forever transpired between us.” - Joanne Arnott “From a mixed-blood Métis woman with Mennonite roots, Kate weaves a story that winds its way through the north end (Nor-tend) of Winnipeg. It’s a story of death, birth, survival, beauty and ugliness; through it all there are glimmers of hope, strength, and a will to survive whatever this city throws at you.” - Duncan Mercredi Katherena Vermette is a Métis writer of poetry and fiction. Her work has appeared in several literary magazines and compilations, including Manitowapow: Aboriginal Writings from the Land of Water. Vermette was the 2010-2011 writerscollective.org Blogger in Residence and recently began graduate work in the prestigious Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing program at the University of British Columbia. A member of the Aboriginal Writers Collective of Manitoba since 2004, Vermette lives, works and plays in Winnipeg, Manitoba.