CANADA READS 2020 FINALIST
More than ten years after her Giller-shortlisted title Monkey Beach, Eden Robinson returns with a striking and precise coming-of-age novel, in which everyday teen existence meets Indigenous beliefs, crazy family dynamics and cannibalistic river otters.
Meet Jared Martin: sixteen-year-old pot cookie dealer, smoker, drinker and son with the scariest mom ever. But Jared's the pot dealer with a heart of gold--really. Compassionate, caring, and nurturing by nature, Jared's determined to help hold his family together--whether that means supporting his dad's new family with the proceeds from his baking or caring for his elderly neighbours. But when it comes to being cared and loved, Jared knows he can't rely on his family. His only source of love and support was his flatulent pit bull Baby, but she's dead. And then there's the talking ravens and the black outs and his grandmother's perpetual suspicion that he is not human, but the son of a trickster.
About the author
Eden Robinson is the internationally acclaimed author of Traplines, Monkey Beach, and Blood Sports. Traplines was the winner of the New York Times Notable Book of the Year and Britain's Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize. Monkey Beach was nominated for the Giller Prize, the 2000 Governor General's Award for Fiction, and was selected as the Globe and Mail's Editor's Choice. Robinson is a member of the Haisla and Heiltsuk First Nations.
- Short-listed, Canada Reads
- Long-listed, International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
- Short-listed, BC Book Prize's Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize
- Short-listed, Sunburst Award
- Nominated, OLA Evergreen Award
- Short-listed, Scotiabank Giller Prize
Excerpt: Son of a Trickster (by (author) Eden Robinson)
THE FOOD OF WORMS
Jared hadn’t realized he loved his dog until they decided to put her down. His mom and the vet agreed on a time, like her euthanasia was just a regular appointment. While he went to school, Baby would stay at the vet’s, sedated. In a way, he wanted them to do it right now, so it wouldn’t be hanging over them all day, but he was kind of glad there were rules to follow. Jared scratched Baby’s head. She was the result of a pit bull mixed with a boxer, a heavy, deep-chested dog with scraggly ears from a fight with her brother. Her fur was mottled orange, black and grey, a squiggly pattern like a toddler had coloured her with fading markers. Her face looked like it had been flattened by a shovel. She farted constantly from a diet of cheap dog food and a tendency to eat whatever landed on the floor. She had once shat marbles. Baby wheezed like a hardened smoker and then coughed. Jared’s throat tightened. The room blurred as his eyes watered. He swallowed loudly. Baby roused from the exam table and licked his arm. Jared leaned his head against hers.
“I’ll give you folks a moment,” the vet said.
After he left, Jared’s mom sat, shoving her hands deep in the pockets of her leather jacket. The fluorescent lights hummed. His mom’s left leg jiggled impatiently. Jared wiped his nose on his sleeve. The harder he tried not to cry, the more he cried. The painted concrete walls echoed his sniffling back at him.
“I’m going for a smoke,” his mom said.
Baby thumped her tail when his mom came over to squeeze Jared’s shoulder. His mom’s eyes darted around the room, but she avoided meeting his. Normally, she’d be telling him sixteen was way too old to be acting like a big fucking wuss, but they could hear the vet and the receptionist talking in the front room, so she stayed quiet. She patted her jeans as she walked out. Probably forgot her lighter in the truck.
The world is hard, his mom liked to say. You have to be harder.
Baby licked his cheek.
“Gonna miss you,” Jared whispered in her ear.
Baby lifted a leg and farted. Jared laughed, and then it turned into crying that faded into more sniffling. His heart was a bruise because Baby’s heart was full of worms. The X-rays showed them curled in its chambers like glowing balls of wool. Time stretched and folded so it went both too fast and too slow. After his mom finished smoking, she’d come back and drive him to school. He hugged Baby hard and she grumbled. He wasn’t going to be alone after she died, but the world was going to be a lonelier place without her.
2020 Canada Reads Finalist
Longlisted for the 2019 International Dublin Literary Award
Finalist for the 2018 BC Book Prize's Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize
Shortlisted for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize
“Eden Robinson’s Son of a Trickster is a novel that shimmers with magic and vitality, featuring a compelling narrator, somewhere between Holden Caulfield and Harry Potter. Just when you think Jared’s teenage journey couldn’t be more grounded in gritty, grinding reality, his addled perceptions take us into a realm beyond his small town life, somewhere both seductive and dangerous. Energetic, often darkly funny, sometimes poignant, this is a book that will resonate long after the reader has devoured the final page.” —2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize jury (André Alexis, Anita Rau Badami, Lynn Coady and Richard Beard)
“Robinson has a gift for making disparate elements come together into a convincing narrative, breathing myth, lore and magic into otherwise harsh realities. . . . Jared offers readers, particularly First Nations Youth, a comrade in the angst and alienation of their experience. Eden Robinson does much to enhance the growing body of Indigenous Canadian literature, but we need even more—at least a trilogy’s worth.” —Maclean’s
“Only Eden Robinson could make a reader fall in love with a smart-ass, alcoholic, drug-dealing sixteen-year-old. Through protagonist Jared and his dysfunctional family, Robinson teaches us about a kind of love outside of the norm of greeting cards and family sitcoms. Son of a Trickster is a ribald narrative, irreverent and surreal and hilarious and messy. But don’t let the unruly humour fool you—the book also offers a serious contribution to current conversations about decolonization.” —Quill & Quire
“If Raven and Trickster got a show on Netflix, no one could write it but Eden Robinson. Talking ravens, party drugs, deadbeat dads, murderous otters, Doctor Who—nobody brings together pop culture, indigenous culture and myth with more ferocity and humour. Son of a Trickster is my favourite book this year.” —Annabel Lyon, author of The Sweet Girl and The Golden Mean
“Eden Robinson is a writer with a magical touch. Crisp prose, taut dialogue, and a cast of maniacal characters you sure as hell don’t want living next door.” —Thomas King, author of The Back of the Turtle and The Inconvenient Indian
“Son of a Trickster is filled with darkness and squalor and obscenity. And yet, startlingly, it brings the reader to a place of wonder and mystery and magic. It is a story of a boy born into a violent history. It is a story of a boy born into a magnificent culture. Robinson bravely reconciles these oppositions in a story that is equal parts irreverent humour and astute wisdom.” —Heather O’Neill, author of The Girl Who Was Saturday Night and Lullabies for Little Criminals