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Fiction Native American & Aboriginal


by (author) Michel Jean

translated by Susan Ouriou

House of Anansi Press Inc
Initial publish date
Jul 2023
Native American & Aboriginal, Small Town & Rural, Historical
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jul 2023
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2023
    List Price

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A Quebec bestseller based on the life of Michel Jean’s great-grandmother that delivers an empathetic portrait of drastic change in an Innu community.

Kukum recounts the story of Almanda Siméon, an orphan raised by her aunt and uncle, who falls in love with a young Innu man despite their cultural differences and goes on to share her life with the Pekuakami Innu community. They accept her as one of their own: Almanda learns their language, how to live a nomadic existence, and begins to break down the barriers imposed on Indigenous women. Unfolding over the course of a century, the novel details the end of traditional ways of life for the Innu, as Almanda and her family face the loss of their land and confinement to reserves, and the enduring violence of residential schools.

Kukum intimately expresses the importance of Innu ancestral values and the need for freedom nomadic peoples feel to this day.

About the authors

MICHEL JEAN is a writer, TV news anchor, and investigative journalist. The author of eleven books, he also writes and curates short stories and has edited two French-language collections showcasing Indigenous writers: Amun (2016) and Wapke (2021). In his 2012 novel Elle et nous, he opened up about his own Indigenous origins for the very first time. Kukum won the Prix France-Québec in 2020. Michel is Innu from Mashteuiatsh and much of his writing reflects his Indigenous origins.

Michel Jean's profile page

Susan Ouriou is an award-winning literary translator who has translated the fiction of Quebec, Latin-American, French and Spanish authors. She won Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation in 2009 for Pieces of Me by Charlotte Gingras, after first being shortlisted for The Road to Chlifa by Michèle Marineau and then for Necessary Betrayals by Guillaume Vigneault. The Road to Chlifa was also awarded an honour list placing by IBBY (International Board of Books for Youth) as were Naomi and Mrs. Lumbago by Gilles Tibo, This Side of the Sky by Marie-Francine Hébert and Pieces of Me. Necessary Betrayals was also voted one of the 100 best books of 2002 by the Globe and Mail. Another translation, The Thirteenth Summer by José Luis Olaizola, was runner-up for the John Glassco Translation Prize. She has worked as the director of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre and as faculty for the Banff Centre's Aboriginal Emerging Writers residency. She is the editor of the 2010 anthology Beyond Words – Translating the World.

Susan Ouriou's profile page

Editorial Reviews

There is no escaping the history of this country, but that does not make this story a tragedy. It is first and foremost a celebration of a life well-lived.

Winnipeg Free Press

An admirable book. Jean makes us feel the loss experienced by Quebec’s Innu community through a highly personal story … Kukum serves as a reminder to listen to your elders, heed the lessons of the past, and question what is done in the name of progress.

Montreal Review of Books

Other titles by Susan Ouriou