By Eden Robinson
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780618073276, 384pp.)
Publication Date: December 2000
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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Eden Robinson's first book, a collection of stories titled TRAPLINES, earned high praise from critics: "Expertly rendered" (New York Times Book Review), and "Captured my attention and permeated my subconscious" (Toronto Globe and Mail). The book was named a New York Times Notable and won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize from the Royal Society of Literature.
Robinson's mastery is confirmed in MONKEY BEACH, the first full-length work of fiction by a Haisla writer and an unforgettable story set in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. This powerful novel reminds us that places, as much as people, have stories to tell.
Five hundred miles north of Vancouver is Kitamaat, an Indian reservation in the homeland of the Haisla people. Growing up a tough, wild tomboy, swimming, fighting, and fishing in a remote village where the land slips into the green ocean on the edge of the world, Lisamarie has always been different. Visited by ghosts and shapeshifters, tormented by premonitions, she can't escape the sense that something terrible is waiting for her. She recounts her enchanted yet scarred life as she journeys in her speedboat up the frigid waters of the Douglas Channel. She is searching for her brother, dead by drowning, and in her own way running as fast as she can toward danger. Circling her brother's tragic death are the remarkable characters that make up her family: Lisamarie's parents, struggling to join their Haisla heritage with Western ways; Uncle Mick, a Native rights activist and devoted Elvis fan; and the headstrong Ma-ma-oo (Haisla for "grandmother"), a guardian of tradition.
Haunting, funny, and vividly poignant, MONKEY BEACH gives full scope to Robinson's startling ability to make bedfellows of comedy and the dark underside of life. Informed as much by its lush living wilderness as by the humanity of its colorful characters, MONKEY BEACH is a profoundly moving story about childhood and the pain of growing older--a multilayered tale of family grief and redemption.
Eden Robinson is a thirty-one-year-old Haisla woman who grew up near Kitimat, British Columbia. Her previous collection, TRAPLINES, was awarded the Winifred Holtby Prize for the best first work of fiction by a Commonwealth writer and was a New York Times Editor's Choice and Notable Book of the Year.
"Eden Robinson has already won a reputation as a Generation X laureate." The New York Times
Compelling, deeply satisfying . . . Robinson has an artist’s eye, and . . . the quiet determination of an archivist cataloguing a disappearing way of life.” -- Toronto Globe and Mail
--"MONKEY BEACH creates a vivid contemporary landscape that draws the reader deep into a traditional world, a hidden universe of premonition, pain, and power."--Tom King, author of Green Grass, Running Water (Houghton) and Truth and Bright Water (Grove).
"[Monkey Beach] is a startlingly accomplished first novel, artfully constructed, in places very funny, in others deeply haunting...Eden Robinson rewards our faith that after all these years writers can still, as Pound said, 'make it new.'" The Washington Post
"...Robinson, herself a Haisla, fills this edifying book with the stuff of the living, from the tiniest details of Haisla life to the mightiest universal of tradition, desire and family love."
- Mark Rozzo, Los Angeles Times 12/24/00 The Los Angeles Times