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Fiction Native American & Aboriginal

The Circle

by (author) Katherena Vermette

Penguin Group Canada
Initial publish date
Sep 2023
Native American & Aboriginal, Siblings, Contemporary Women
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2023
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2024
    List Price

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The Circle is a polyphonic masterpiece.” —Erika T. Wurth, author of White Horse
From the award-winning and #1 bestselling author of The Break and The Strangers comes a poignant and unwavering epic told from a constellation of Métis voices that consider the fallout when the person who connects them all goes missing

The concept was simple. You sit a bunch of people in a circle—everyone who hurt, everyone who got hurt, all affected—and let them share. Some people, it helped them heal, for sure. Others went in angry and left a different kind of angry. Learned how the blame belonged on the system, the history, the colonizer, the big things that were harder to change than one bad person.

The day that Cedar Sage Stranger has been both dreading and longing for has finally come: her sister Phoenix is getting out of prison.

The effect of Phoenix’s release cascades through the community. M, the young girl whom she assaulted, is triggered by the news. Her mother, Paulina, is worried and her cousin is angry—all feel the threat of Phoenix’s release. When Phoenix is seen lingering outside the school to catch a glimpse of her son, Sparrow, the police get a call to file a report—but the next thing they know, she has disappeared.

Amid accusations and plots for revenge, past grievances become a poor guide in a moment of danger, and the clumsy armature of law enforcement is no match for the community. Cedar and her and Phoenix’s mother, Elsie, continue down different paths of healing, while everyone in their lives form a circle around the chaos, the calm within the storm, and the beauty in the darkness.

Fierce, heartbreaking, and profound, Vermette’s The Circle is the third and final companion novel to her bestsellers The Break and The Strangers. Told from various perspectives, with an unforgettable voice for each chapter, the novel is masterfully structured as a Restorative Justice Circle where all gather—both the victimized and the accused—to take account of a crime that has altered the course of their lives. It considers what it means to be abandoned by the very systems that claim to offer support, how it feels to gain a sense of belonging, and the unanticipated cost of protecting those you love most.

About the author

KATHERENA VERMETTE is a Métis writer from Treaty One territory, the heart of the Métis nation, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Her first book, North End Love Songs (The Muses Company), won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry. Her National Film Board short documentary, this river, won the Coup de Coeur award at the Montreal First Peoples Festival and a Canadian Screen Award.

Her first novel, The Break, was a national bestseller and won the First Novel Award; the Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Young Adult Literature; and three Manitoba Book Awards. It was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and CBC’s Canada Reads. She is also the author of the children’s picture book series The Seven Teaching Stories and recently published the first book, Pemmican Wars, in the young adult book series A Girl Called Echo. Ms. Vermette’s second book of poetry, river woman, is forthcoming in the fall of 2018 from House of Anansi Press.

Katherena Vermette's profile page

Editorial Reviews

One of CBC's "40 Canadian books to read this season"
One of CBC Books "Best Fiction of 2023”
Praise for The Circle:

“Like Orange's There There, The Circle is a polyphonic masterpiece. Brutal at turns, and tender at others, it's about the tremendous impact one person can have on an entire community.”
—Erika T. Wurth, author of White Horse

“Like its sisters in this trilogy, every page of The Circle is a steady and rhythmic observation of our humanity as Indigenous people. It asks what restitution and justice could possibly feel like when we, as Indigenous people, are all subjects of this unjust empire called Canada. This book is truth in all her fluid forms. It is an altar of love, hope, and grief amidst the relentless torment of settler colonialism. Katherena Vermette, in her distinctly elegant style, offers a glimpse into the devastating beauty of our people and our capacity to keep moving forward, one foot at a time, guided by the love and strength of our ancestors. It reminds us that, in the end, all that’s left is the stories we carry with the people we loved.”
—Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, filmmaker and actor

“A perfect companion to The Break and The Strangers, Katherena Vermette’s The Circle draws us back into the lives of characters who we’ve come to know so intimately that their heartache is our heartache. With each new perspective as distinct and vivid as the last, The Circle acts as an unsettling reminder that the systems designed to help the most vulnerable too often end up betraying them. This is a stellar finale with an ending that will leave you both heartbroken and hopeful.”
—Amanda Peters, author of The Berry Pickers
“What a gift we have been given. The Circle is a window into the lives of unforgettable characters, families, and community. The nuances, the crescendos, thrum like a heartbeat that hurts and heals, bends and breaks, that mends, always with care through prose that is as beautiful as it is raw and unflinching. Vermette has written a masterful work, one that challenges us with an intricate structure, as the circle forms and finally connects. If this is the end of the story, the gift we have is to hold these characters, and live with them long after the last page has been turned.”
—David A. Robertson, author of The Theory of Crows

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