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Novels by Cree Writers: Background information when reading Bad Cree

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Bad Cree

A Novel

by Jessica Johns

Bad Cree by Jessica Johns X
Bad Cree by Jessica Johns
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2023, 272 pages

    Dec 2023, 256 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Elisabeth Cook
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About this Book

Novels by Cree Writers

This article relates to Bad Cree

Print Review

Jessica Johns, the author of Bad Cree, is a member of the Sucker Creek First Nation in Northern Alberta. The Cree, or ininiw, who also refer to themselves as nêhiyawak (Plains Cree), nihithaw (Woodland Cree) and nèhinaw (Swampy Cree), are the largest group of Indigenous peoples in Canada, and live in areas stretching from Alberta to Quebec. Below are a few other recent novels written by Cree authors.

A Minor Chorus coverA Minor Chorus (2022) by Billy-Ray Belcourt

Billy-Ray Belcourt, an acclaimed poet and memoirist from the Driftpile Cree Nation, published his debut novel A Minor Chorus in 2022. Like Bad Cree, A Minor Chorus features a first-person narrator who has been living in a city and returns home to rural Alberta. This unnamed main character is a queer Cree student who leaves his graduate program in Edmonton, Alberta to write a novel, interviewing locals from his hometown in the process. The result is a deep exploration of queer and Indigenous identity that Publishers Weekly describes as "a breathtaking and hypnotic achievement."

Probably Ruby coverProbably Ruby (2022) by Lisa Bird-Wilson

In her debut novel Probaby Ruby, Lisa Bird-Wilson, a Cree-Métis writer, chronicles the life of Ruby, a Métis woman raised by white parents, showing her struggles with romantic relationships, her attempts to reconnect with her heritage, and the larger legacy of trauma from forced adoption and residential schools that stretches around her. Like Belcourt, Bird-Wilson comes to novel-writing with a background in poetry, and approaches her subject with evocative imagery, occasional humor and a light touch.

The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour coverThe Prairie Chicken Dance Tour (2021) by Dawn Dumont

The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour, which was shortlisted for the 2022 Leacock Medal for Humour, is a comedic novel by author Dawn Dumont, from the Okanese Cree Nation, that follows a group of Indigenous dancers touring Europe in the 1970s. Among the dancers are a woman with arthritis, her 19-year-old niece, a retired cowboy and a mysterious American. The tour soon goes awry and the odd pack embarks on a string of escapades.

The Lover the Lake coverThe Lover, the Lake (2021) by Virginia Pesemapeo Bordeleau

Virginia Pesemapeo Bordeleau is a Cree and Métis writer from Quebec, and a member of the First Nation of Waswanipi. The Lover, the Lake, originally published in French and now available in an English translation by Susan Ouriou, follows a love affair between the characters Wabougouni and Gabriel on the shores of Lake Abitibi. It is considered to be the first erotic novel by an Indigenous woman in French, but the publisher's description states that Bordeleau "would rather call it a celebration of sensuality, another first." In her prologue, she writes, "My hope is that this novel will serve to unearth the seed of joy buried deep in our culture, still profoundly alive...The Lover, the Lake shows us that we are not just suffering and victims: we can also be pleasure."

Kiss of the Fur Queen coverKiss of the Fur Queen (2021) by Tomson Highway

Kiss of the Fur Queen is a bestselling novel by the playwright Tomson Highway, a member of the Barren Lands First Nation, who is also the son of world championship dogsled racer Joe Highway and artist Pelagie Highway. Kiss of the Fur Queen follows two boys, Champion and Ooneemeetoo Okimasis, who are forced to attend a Catholic residential school, where they are watched over by a trickster figure known as the Fur Queen.

Filed under Reading Lists

Article by Elisabeth Cook

This "beyond the book article" relates to Bad Cree. It originally ran in February 2023 and has been updated for the December 2023 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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