Fifty years ago, Markoosie Patsauq, then a bush pilot in his late twenties living in the tiny, isolated High Arctic community of Resolute, spent his spare time quietly writing a story that effectively emerged as the first Indigenous novel released in Canada. Published in English under the title Harpoon of the Hunter in 1970 by McGill-Queen's University Press, that version of the story was Patsauq's own adaptation. In the years that followed the widely acclaimed English edition was translated into many different languages, but what has remained obscured until the present day is the Inuktitut text originally produced by the author.
In collaboration with Patsauq, Valerie Henitiuk and Marc-Antoine Mahieu have foregrounded the original Inuktitut text to inform their translations into both English and French. This critical edition, complete with the story in both Inuktitut syllabics and Latin script, utilizes the author's handwritten manuscript as well as interviews with Patsauq to produce a new, rigorous examination of this literary and cultural milestone. This work also includes the first comprehensive account of the critical response to his writing while underscoring the way the much-altered English adaptation from 1970 shaped that response.
A momentous achievement that situates a new classic in the twenty-first century, Hunter with Harpoon brings readers back to the roots of Markoosie Patsauq's Inuit story to experience it as it was originally written.
Markoosie Patsauq (1941-2020) was a writer, retired pilot, and community leader. He lived in Inukjuak, Nunavik. Valerie Henitiuk, translation studies specialist, is provost at Concordia University of Edmonton. Marc-Antoine Mahieu is professor of Inuktitut at INALCO, Sorbonne Paris Cité, and consultant for the Kativik school board in Nunavik.