In her vibrant first novel, Sisters of Grass, Theresa Kishkan weaves a tapestry of the senses through the touchstones of a young woman's life. Anna is preparing an exhibit of textiles reflecting life in central British Columbia a century ago. In a forgotten corner of a museum, she discovers a dusty cardboard box containing the century-old personal effects of a Nicola valley woman. Fascinated by the artifacts, she reconstructs the story of their owner, Margaret Stuart. Margaret, the daughter of a Native mother and a Scottish-American father, she tries to fit into both worlds. She's taught photography by a visiting Columbia University anthropology student that she falls in love with.
With strong, poetic language, Kishkan makes the past reverberate through the present in a richly patterned work celebrating the complexities and joys of life and the sustaining connections of family.
About the author
Theresa Kishkan came to national attention in 2000, with her first full-length novel, Sisters of Grass. A true "writer's writer," she has been steadfastly championed by her peers as a writer against whom others measure their own work, and she has fostered the careers of many other writers while refining her own craft. A popular reader in British Columbia, Washington, and other parts of western Canada and the US, she is an enthusiastic organizer of and participant in regional literary events, and she has twice won Province of British Columbia Cultural Services awards. Kishkan's poetry and essays have appeared in periodicals including Brick, Canadian Forum, The Fiddlehead, The Malahat Review, Matrix, The Vancouver Sun, and Manoa (Hawaii) and in five book-length collections including the highly praised Black Cup and Morning Glory, which won the 1992 bp Nichol Chapbook Prize. She has also published a collection of essays on place and history, entitled Red Laredo Boots (New Star, 1996), which Susan Musgrave selected as one of her favourite books of the decade in BC Bookworld. Inishbream is based on a year the author spent on such an island in the 1970s. Today, she lives on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia with her husband, the poet John Pass.
"Each page is suffused with the fragrance and visual delights of the west ... a natural, lyrical exploration of the senses, with the author's poetic roots evident in every passage."
"The archival impetus and historical details of Kishkan's first full-length fiction are appealing ... she can write beautifully about objects and places."
"Nature is an exotic ingredient in this delightful imagined account of a young girl's awakening to womanhood a hundred years ago. Theresa Kishkan's prose is lyrical and exquisite. A book to treasure."
"Margaret's life begins to unfold for us — a life steeped in hard work and earthly beauty and gathering toward a promising future ... her story building at last to a strong and unsentimental climax ... Ends with a bittersweet narrative punch."
<i>Globe and Mail</i>
"A novel of change and reconciliation, of the confluence of many worlds ... a tremendous accomplishment. ... An astonishing debut ... Sisters of Grass is beautifully understated with a quiet grace that succeeds in transforming the regional to the universal, filling the reader with a sense of the mysteries of the world and humanity that can never fully be resolved."
<i>Quill & Quire</i> (starred review)