Joseph Boyden is a Canadian novelist and short story writer. He grew up in Willowdale, North York, Ontario and attended the Jesuit-run Brebeuf College School. Boyden, of Irish, Scottish and Métis heritage, writes about First Nations heritage and culture.
It is 1919, and Niska, the last Oji-Cree woman to live off the land, has received word that one of the two boys she saw off to the Great War has returned. Xavier Bird, her sole living relation, is gravely wounded and addicted to morphine. As Niska slowly paddles her canoe on the three-day journey to bring Xavier home, travelling through the stark but stunning landscape of Northern Ontario, their respective stories emerge—stories of Niska’s life among her kin and of Xavier’s horrifying experiences in the killing fields of Ypres and the Somme.
“A novel that begins at the end, and ends with a beginning.
“From its opening chapter, Three Day Road sets itself up as a book that would put me through the wringer. The novel’s descriptive passages are evocative and powerful.”
“The book resonates with authenticity: the aboriginal themes, thoughts, and practices ring true and never feel forced. Indeed, the three Cree leads are strong, fully developed and interesting characters whose cultural experiences deeply influence their world-view.”
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As these three souls dance with each other through intricately woven acts of duplicity, their social, political and spiritual worlds collide – and a new nation rises from a world in flux.
Joseph Boyden has taken our memory of the past – myth and fact – ripped it inside out with elegance, violence, emotion and understanding until before us stands a new myth, a new memory, of how we became who we are.” – John Ralston Saul
“To say that The Orenda is a compelling read would be an understatement. Reading Boyden’s latest novel was for me an intense experience which I think will haunt me for a long while. It is not an easy, comfortable read; it is, in fact, provocative, demanding that we examine our history with an unflinching eye: “What’s happened in the past can’t stay in the past for the same reason the future is always just a breath away” (487).”
“Boyden’s bloody and brick-thick new novel, The Orenda, is a historical epic about an idealistic missionary caught between warring tribes, hundreds of years before confederation. . . Full of head-bludgeoning and throat-cutting scenes set in the wilds of what is now Ontario, the novel feels like a hybrid of Pierre Berton and Cormac McCarthy: perfect for readers who like a little arterial spray with their history.” – Toronto Life