Winner of the PEN/Josephine Miles Award and nominated for the Commonwealth Writer's Prize, Medicine River is a great introduction to Thomas King's humorous fiction. It's the story of Will, a mixed-blood man of Blackfoot descent and a marginally successful Toronto photographer, who has returned to the reserve for his mother's funeral. Will isn't planning on staying in Medicine River, but his old friend Harlen Bigbear has other plans for him. In a unique brand of community planning, Harlen sets out to sell Will on the idea of returning to Medicine River as the town's only Native photographer, and manages to convince him to at least give it a try. Will feels alienated from his friends and family, but the ever-engaging Harlan has an answer for everything.
King's gift as a comic writer is his ability to tackle serious issues within an engaging comic narrative. He subtly explores the exclusion of First Peoples from white culture and history and the challenges faced by contemporary Native communities trying to maintain a connection to the past and a grip on the present, and he makes us laugh at the same time. Using a series of comic vignettes, King draws us into the very heart of Medicine River and creates a wonderful and intimate portrait of small-town life. Readers might also want to check out his fabulous novels, Green Grass, Running Water and Truth and Bright Water, and his short-story collection,One Good Story, That One. --Jeffrey Canton [via]