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Characterized as brilliant, Jeremiah Camp, is pressed into determining who is killing the billionaires whose financial practices cause inhumane cruelty such as the depravity perpetrated upon First Nations children.
The story starts out at an engaging clip, but the pace slows to a crawl and felt increasingly pedantic and repetitive to me. While the protagonist, Jeremiah, successfully traces the murderers of billionaires, there's no grand hurrah. Jeremiah's relentless and grumpy silence has not earned my affection. As a matter of fact, I even wondered, at one point, if he'd plotted the murders himself.
From his billionaire boss, Jeremiah accepts a retirement gift of a former residential school building located in the First Nations community where he was born. Jeremiah refuses to speak to the living. He seems to prefer the dead. In his backyard, he replaces the white Christian cross gravemarkers with local rock onto which he steadfastly chisels the name of each child murdered by one more hideous priest.
Throughout the novel, he remains mute by choice which may underscore that listening well and allowing others to 'save' themselves is a far superior route to happiness than evangelical pomposity. But Jeremiah does not listen well. He thinks about lunch while people are pouring their hearts out to him. I suspect our protagonist suffers a traumatic injury.
While persistently shunning his family, this complicated, unchanging, and well-drawn character rarely misses his morning visit to the family cafe where he sips an espresso and shares a freshly baked brownie with his tolerant and kind relative who does all the talking. Jeremiah's First Nations community seems to understand his childhood trauma and that Jeremiah walks in his own self-styled moccasins.
To me, the chit-chatty, very kind, and warm community surrounding this morose man are the real heroes in the story. So often, people mistake warm chatting about the mundane as 'airhead' and silence for 'brilliance'. Not at all true.
Just finished Thomas King's latest novel, Sufferance, and I found it an engaging, easy, fun read. Growing up on the West Coast of BC Canada I love the Canadian vibe of these Thomas King novels. Having kids, I would love to see some of Mr. King's work find it's way into the Canadian Public School curriculum. The only thing I didn't like about this novel was that it didn't keep going with the story. Might there be a sequel?
From my perspective Thomas King is one of the most important authors of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Through complex satire and wry humor he delves into the history of indigenous people of North America and how their history manifests into the current issues they face. His stories also bring forward the ecological implications of unfettered human development and the impact to those who hold the least power.
In Sufferance the primary topic is the attempted erasure of Native American culture through boarding schools and reservations and their impacts on future generations.
I think Green Grass and Running Water is his best novel, and one of the best novels I have ever read, but Sufferance is a close second. I highly encourage everyone to read Thomas King.