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Indians on Vacation: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Aug. 25 2020
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A #1 Indie bestseller and a Canadian bestseller for 22 weeks, the brilliant latest novel from one of Canada’s foremost authors
Inspired by a handful of postcards sent nearly a hundred years ago, Bird and Mimi attempt to trace long-lost uncle Leroy and the family medicine bundle he took with him to Europe.
“I’m sweaty and sticky. My ears are still popping from the descent into Vaclav Havel. My sinuses ache. My stomach is upset. My mouth is a sewer. I roll over and bury my face in a pillow. Mimi snuggles down beside me with no regard for my distress.
‘My god,’ she whispers, ‘can it get any better?’”
By turns witty, sly and poignant, this is the unforgettable tale of one couple’s holiday in Europe, where their wanderings through its famous capitals reveal a complicated history, both personal and political.
"Reading Thomas King's INDIANS ON VACATION. Great grumpy dialogue + killer one-liners! Remind me not to irritate him. @HarperCollinsCA" — @MargaretAtwood
“The beauty of King’s writing is that, like all good authors, it seems effortless. Like those words always have and always should be in that specific order on the page, and that was the way the great literary gods planned it. . . .I like reading Tom King because he does, succinctly and cleverly, what all good writers should do – he educates, illuminates and entertains with every paragraph.” — Drew Hayden Taylor, author of Motorcycles and Sweetgrass
“From the first page, King’s sardonic and very funny voice leads us to places we never expect to go. . . European and Indigenous history collide and there’s no one better to examine the aftermath.” — Toronto Star
“Funny and deeply sensitive…. Indians on Vacation presses sharply against the world with humour and heart – personalized demons and all.” — Quill & Quire (starred review)
"Indians on Vacation is a witty, funny striking story that ponders the importance of history from the smallest personal connections to big-picture politics."
— Vancouver Sun
“As more and more Indigenous writers create new and exciting works, trailblazers like King have endured. Canada, in turn, is better for it. . . . I could spend my time dissecting the skill in King’s writing, how he layers complex ideas and themes underneath his trademark humour (which is pretty much unmatched). . . . [R]eaders find essential truths King has laced within the narrative thread.” — Daniel A. Robertson, author of Black Water
“[Bird and Mimi] are winning, funny protagonists: bickering, falling ill, eating bad food and confronting old truths. A sly and wise book.” — Chatelaine
“King . . . winner of the RBC Taylor Prize for The Inconvenient Indian, offers armchair travel and wry observational truths about contemporary life in equal measure." — Zoomer Magazine
About the Author
THOMAS KING is an award-winning writer and photographer. His critically acclaimed, bestselling books include Medicine River; Green Grass, Running Water; One Good Story, That One; Truth and Bright Water; A Short History of Indians in Canada; The Back of the Turtle (winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction); The Inconvenient Indian (winner of the RBC Taylor Prize); Indians on Vacation; Sufferance;and the poetry collection 77 Fragments of a Familiar Ruin. A Companion of the Order of Canada and the recipient of a National Aboriginal Achievement Award, Thomas King lives in Guelph, Ontario.
- Publisher : HarperCollins Publishers (Aug. 25 2020)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1443460540
- ISBN-13 : 978-1443460545
- Item weight : 646 g
- Dimensions : 15.24 x 2.57 x 22.86 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #79,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Canada
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One of my goals this year is to read more books from Native American authors. It's not because I'm harboring some kind of obligation but because I know my ratio of books from different races versus white authors is a little wonky. Expanding my horizon, if you will. As well, I noticed how biased my choices are in learning about World History. I'm a Canadian who didn't go to school here, and who rarely follow our politics. This was my way of trying to learn: read more books from Canadian authors, particularly from Indigenous descent.
This book, is perhaps, an easy favourite. Not only for the ease of King's narrative, but also for the way he discussed social issues of class, race, displacement, and mental health so seamlessly that you won't noticed until you go back a few sentences to re-read. This book follows Bird and Mimi. They're on a quest to find some relic from Mimi's uncle. Clues were left via mail and post cards from Europe, and so the couple found themselves in Prague first.
From there, we see a perspective from this couple about their own history and their marriage as they witness the world around them. Throughout the story, we see Bird fall slowly to his illness; some sort of rheumatological disease that affects mostly Asian and Indigenous people. We also see him stroll all over Europe with the accompaniment of his "demons" -- which for us mere mortals, represent all the self defeating attitudes and mindsets that plagued us day in and day out.
As they run into Syrian refugees who came by boats to Greece, they're confronted by how easily they turn away from the needs of others. It also affected me in a way. Especially now that we are in a raging pandemic. People busking for coins on the street or intersections and I easily ignore them and say, well, I can't open the car door or window, now can I? Further reinforcing the fact that we could find excuses not to help out. Don't get me wrong, this book didn't come off preachy. It was just how we should think about our actions next time and how we could balance the good and the bad.
I especially love the relationship between Mimi & Bird. They've been married for a long time and it hasn't been roses and rainbows. But they remind me of how a marriage takes work, and understanding each other's flaws and misgivings only strengthen it over time. Indians on Vacations has its moments of seriousness and sharp humour, a perfect blend of sarcasm and realness that cut through its message laced with a slight flavour of world politics and banal married life.
Blackbird Mavrias and Mimi Bull Shield make one hell of a pair; he an American Cherokee with mixed Greek parentage, and she an Alberta Blackfoot. After meeting in California he is enticed - or shall we say charmed - into following her back to Canada, and they eventually settle and retire in Guelph, Ontario.
Now "Bird" is really a stay-at-home kind of guy who finds contentment in exploring his own 'backyard', but Mimi - somewhat driven by her mother but more largely be her adventuresome nature - loves to travel, broadly. Her quest is find a find a bundle (of undetermined contents) that her uncle Leroy took with him as he toured Europe with a wild west show a hundred years ago. The clues to his travels exist only as post cards he sent home from his travels. Bird, largely against his will, tags along and with him brings an assortment of personal demons (which Mimi has taken joy in giving human names) that make his life more than just occasionally unpleasant.
Anyway, it's a story of familial relationships that is mostly funny but also quite reflective, and interestingly shapes itself as a travelogue that introduces - or reminds - the reader of some very interesting people and places that exist outside our own sphere of existence.
More than happy - actually quite thrilled, to give Mr. King a double thumbs-up and (for whatever worth or weight it may carry) my highest recommendation! Read it and laugh, constantly.....
In this book, they are touring Prague we get flashbacks of their visits to other European countries, and to their lives back in Canada and the USA. In part, this works as a travel guide, with descriptions of sites of interest to the tourist, and ones to avoid. It was sometimes uncomfortable reading about their conversations which made me feel like an eavesdropper. It also touches on systematic racism, mistreatment of Indian people and tribes, and injustice in North America. .
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Reviewed in the United States on January 29, 2022