Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 15
- Grade: 10
Winner of the Canada Reads People's Choice award and the First Nations Communities Reads program and short-listed for the International IMPAC DUBLIN Literary Award.
A Globe and Mail top 100 book of 2012
Saul Indian Horse is dying. Tucked away in a hospice high above the clash and clang of a big city, he embarks on a marvellous journey of imagination back through the life he led as a northern Ojibway, with all its sorrows and joys.
With compassion and insight, author Richard Wagamese traces through his fictional characters the decline of a culture and a cultural way. For Saul, taken forcibly from the land and his family when he's sent to residential school, salvation comes for a while through his incredible gifts as a hockey player. But in the harsh realities of 1960s Canada, he battles obdurate racism and the spirit-destroying effects of cultural alienation and displacement.
Indian Horse unfolds against the bleak loveliness of northern Ontario, all rock, marsh, bog and cedar. Wagamese writes with a spare beauty, penetrating the heart of a remarkable Ojibway man. Evaluated and Approved by ERAC
About the author
Richard Wagamese (1955–2017), an Ojibway from the Wabaseemoong First Nation in northwestern Ontario, was recognized as one of Canada's foremost First Nations authors and storytellers. His debut novel, Keeper 'n Me, came out in 1994 and won the Alberta Writers Guild's Best Novel Award. In 1991, he became the first Indigenous writer to win a National Newspaper Award for column writing. He twice won the Native American Press Association Award for his journalism and received the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature for his 2011 memoir One Story, One Song. In 2012, he was honoured with the Aboriginal Achievement Award for Media and Communications, and in 2013 he received the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize. In 2015, he won the Matt Cohen Award, a recognition given out by the Writers' Trust of Canada that honours writers who have dedicated their entire professional lives to the pursuit of writing. In total, he authored fifteen books including Indian Horse (2012), the 2013 People's Choice winner in CBC's Canada Reads competition, and his final book, a collection of Ojibway meditations, Embers (2016), received the Bill Duthie Booksellers' Choice Award.
- Short-listed, International IMPAC DUBLIN Literary Award
- Winner, "People's Choice" Award of Canada Reads
- Winner, People's Choice Award of Canada Reads
- Winner, First Nations Community Reads
"Wagamese pulls off a fine balancing act: exposing the horrors of the country's residential schools while also celebrating Canada's national game."
Quill & Quire
"Wagamese captures the beauty of hockey as few sportswriters could hope to match."
Winnipeg Free Press
"Richard Wagamese is a national treasure."
Joseph Boyden, author of <i>Through Black Spruce</i>
"Saul Indian Horse is a tough Ojibway boy whose life seems doomed until he discovers hockey and becomes a brilliant skater with a killer wrist shot. But the star of the northern Ontario Indian tournament circuit -- even scouted by the Toronto Maple Leafs -- is goaded by racism into violence and booze and has to come to terms with the painful facts of his childhood. Indian Horse is a taut, closely observed character study with fabulous writing about our beloved sport. "
Evaluated and Approved
"...The hockey chapters are compelling; they evoke Sherman Alexie's fiction that examines contemporary life on American Indian reservations through the lens of basketball. But it is as a story of reconciliation that this novel reveals Wagamese's masterful subtly...In a single image, Wagamese complicates in blinding ways the entire narrative; in a single page, Indian Horse deepens from an enjoyable read to a gripping critique of Canada."
"...Wagamese alternates between horror and Hockey Night in Canada, like he's an all-star centre flawlessly firing backhand shots."
"Wagamese is capable of true grace on the page."
Winnipeg Free Press
"Richard Wagamese is a master storyteller, who blends the throb of life with spiritual links to the land, hard work, and culture to find success, his words take you into the soul of Indian Horse, to experience his pain, his growing resentments, his depression, and his fear which has to be faced if he is to regain the joy of life. This book is meant for youth, adults, and elders, to be shared, to be lived, and to be treasured for the clear message of hope and the need to go the distance."
"Wagamese has written one of the rarest sorts of books: a novel which is both important and a heart-in-throat pleasure."
"Richard Wagamese's writing is exceptional not only for its sensitivity but for a warmth that extends beyond the page. With a finely calibrated hand, he explores heritage, identity, nature, salvation, and gratitude in works that quietly celebrate storytellingís vitality and power to transcend."
"Indian Horse is a force for healing in our beautiful, broken world."
Kathleen Winter, author of "Annabel"
"This book is so many things; it is a mystical tale; it is an ode to the good old hockey game and its power to lift players above their situations; it is a story of a system that fails and fails its children in horrifying ways; it is a story of healing...This is ultimately a hopeful and beautiful book and I recommend it heartily."
"Indian Horse distills much of what Wagamese has been writing about for his whole career into a clearer and sharper liquor, both more bitter and more moving than he has managed in the past. He is such a master of empathy -- of delineating the experience of time passing, of lessons being learned, of tragedies being endured -- that what Saul discovers becomes something the reader learns, as well, shocking and alien, valuable and true. "
Globe & Mail
"Wagamese's compelling novel harnesses two quintessentially Canadian themes, hockey and colonialism, to create an exhilarating and heart-breaking story. Indian Horse reads like 'powerful medicine, allowing vital teachings to be shared.'"
Briar Patch Magazine
"...to watch Richard Wagamese come home in this novel is to watch a phoenix climb. This man and this book are a part of the landscape."
Globe and Mail
"Richard Wagamese's writing is sweet medicine for the soul."
Richard Van Camp, author of <i>The Lesser Blessed</i>
"Wagamese writes with brutal clarity... [and] finds alleviating balance through magical legend."
Globe & Mail
"Indian Horse finds the granite solidity of Wagamese's prose polished to a lustrous sheen; brisk, brief, sharp chapters propel the reader forward. He seamlessly braids together his two traditions: English literary and aboriginal oral. So audible is Saul's voice, that I heard him stop speaking whenever I closed the book...Wagamese crafts an unforgettable work of art."
"Richard Wagamese is a born storyteller."
Louise Erdrich, author of <i>Shadow Tag</i>
"...raw and authentic."
Indian HorseIn this novel, Wagamese writes beautifully about the life-crushing racism towards First Nations people in the 1960s. Saul Indian Horse has grown up in the bush, with the teachings of his grandmother. After his brother and sister are taken away, his grandmother hides him, then dies trying to take him to safety. Saul calls residential school “hell on earth” but grows numb to the horrors around him, learning to become invisible. Hockey becomes his outlet, his passion and his saving grace but his outstanding talent can’t compete with the prejudice of white society. After landing in a treatment centre, Saul realizes he must journey back through his repressed memories and emotions. Aided by his great-grandfather’s mystical vision, Saul’s broken spirit begins to heal.
Wagamese is Ojibway from Northern Ontario.
Caution: Includes references to abuse and alcohol use.
Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. Canadian Aboriginal Books for Schools. 2012-2013.
Indian HorseIn this novel, Wagamese writes beautifully about the darkest aspects of life-crushing racism towards First Nations people in the 1960s. Saul Indian Horse has grown up in the bush, with the teachings of his grandmother. After his brother and sister are taken away, his grandmother hides him, then dies trying to take him to safety. Saul calls residential school “hell on earth” but grows numb to the heartbreaking horrors around him, learning to become invisible. Hockey becomes his outlet, his passion and his saving grace but his outstanding talent can’t compete with the prejudice of white society. After landing in a treatment centre, Saul realizes he must journey back through his repressed memories and emotions. Aided by his great-grandfather’s mystical vision, Saul’s broken spirit begins to heal.
An award winner, Wagamese is Ojibway from Northern Ontario.
Caution: Includes references to abuse and alcohol use.
Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. BC Books for BC Schools. 2012-2013.
Indian HorseBooks that make an impact on you are few and far between but this book definitely hit the mark for me. I loved the writing, the imagery, the characters. Absolutely everything about it.
Other titles by Richard Wagamese
Books About Residential Schools
Silent Book Club Favourite Reads
Canadian YA for the Twitteratti
Fiction: Northwestern Ontario setting
Orange Shirt Day
Indigenous Books for Senior Grades
Fiction for Senior Grades
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