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Fiction Short Stories (single Author)


The Unseen Ones, Short Stories

by (author) Norma Dunning

Douglas & McIntyre
Initial publish date
Mar 2021
Short Stories (single author), Contemporary Women, Native American & Aboriginal
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2021
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2021
    List Price

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Drawing on both lived experience and cultural memory, Norma Dunning brings together six powerful new short stories centred on modern-day Inuk characters in Tainna. Ranging from homeless to extravagantly wealthy, from spiritual to jaded, young to elderly, and even from alive to deceased, Dunning’s characters are united by shared feelings of alienation, displacement and loneliness resulting from their experiences in southern Canada.

In Tainna—meaning “the unseen ones” and pronounced Da‑e‑nn‑a—a fraught reunion between sisters Sila and Amak ends in an uneasy understanding. From the spirit realm, Chevy Bass watches over his imperilled grandson, Kunak. And in the title story, the broken-hearted Bunny wanders onto a golf course on a freezing night, when a flock of geese stand vigil until her body is discovered by a kind stranger.

Norma Dunning’s masterful storytelling uses humour and incisive detail to create compelling characters who discover themselves in a hostile land where prejudice, misogyny and inequity are most often found hidden in plain sight. There, they must rely on their wits, artistic talent, senses of humour and spirituality­ for survival; and there, too, they find solace in shining moments of reconnection with their families and communities.

About the author

Norma Dunning is an Inuit writer, scholar, professor and grandmother. She grew up beyond the tundra and lived mainly in smaller, northern communities across Canada. She will say that she grew up in the places that no one would ever think to drive to. She completed all three of her university degrees within 9.5 years. She won the Danuta Gleed Literary Award in 2018 for her short story collection "Annie Muktuk and Other Stories." In the same year, she won the Writers' Guild of Alberta's Howard O'Hagan Award for the short story "Elipsee", and was a shortlisted finalist for the City of Edmonton Book Award. She is the mother of three sons and grandmother to four children. Dunning writes in both poetry and prose, with poetry being her first go-to when it comes to creative work. Through the support of other Indigenous writers, Dunning came to realize that what she writes matters, although it remains difficult for her to share her work widely. She lives in Edmonton Alberta.

Norma Dunning's profile page


  • Short-listed, Short Story Collection Award at the Alberta Literary Awards
  • Short-listed, ReLit Award (Short Fiction)
  • Winner, Governor General’s Literary Awards
  • Short-listed, 2021 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award

Editorial Reviews

“Dunning demonstrates considerable confidence in both her readers and her own skills, rarely slowing to explain, allowing the narrative to reveal connections and truths as it progresses.”

<i>Quill and Quire</i>

“Dunning’s tone throughout the book is candid and colloquial...each [short] story uses a slightly different voice, and that’s where we see the elegance in Dunning’s craft as a writer...raw and profound...Readers will quickly realize that Tainna is a work of real-life fiction. The characters may be fabricated but the stories are undoubtedly ones of many truths. Tainna will break your heart, mend it, and break it again.”

Ciana Hamilton, <i>Room Magazine</i>

“[Tainna] hit me right in the heart… my body responds to reading these stories.”

Angie Abdou, <i>Daybreak Alberta</i> on CBC Radio One

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