Synopses & Reviews
A haunting novel about identity, love, and loss by the author of Three Day Road
Will Bird is a legendary Cree bush pilot, now lying in a coma in a hospital in his hometown of Moose Factory, Ontario. His niece Annie Bird, beautiful and self-reliant, has returned from her own perilous journey to sit beside his bed. Broken in different ways, the two take silent communion in their unspoken kinship, and the story that unfolds is rife with heartbreak, fierce love, ancient blood feuds, mysterious disappearances, fires, plane crashes, murders, and the bonds that hold a family, and a people, together. As Will and Annie reveal their secrets — the tragic betrayal that cost Will his family, Annie's desperate search for her missing sister, the famous model Suzanne — a remarkable saga of resilience and destiny takes shape. From the dangerous bush country of upper Canada to the drug-fueled glamour of the Manhattan club scene, Joseph Boyden tracks his characters with a keen eye for the telling detail and a rare empathy for the empty places concealed within the heart. Sure to appeal to readers of Louise Erdrich and Jim Harrison, Through Black Spruce establishes Boyden as a writer of startling originality and uncommon power.
"Following up on the success of Three Day Road, Boyden delivers the powerful story of former bush pilot and Cree native Will Bird. The novel opens with Will in a coma, with his niece Annie, who just returned from an eight-month excursion in search of her sister, by his side. Narrated by Will and Annie, the story backtracks to tell of Will's fight to keep his bush-country Indian life alive and protected while he suppresses painful childhood memories (and befriends an old bear). Annie, a skillful hunter and animal trapper, dictates her escapades after rushing off to New York City in pursuit of her sister, Suzanne, a model who has shacked up with a member of the narcotics-smuggling Netmakers family. As Will struggles to survive and Annie reintegrates into the isolated bush, the two stories dovetail as the Netmakers cross paths with Will. Though the incongruously melodramatic denouement doesn't fit with the richly textured narrative preceding it, the novel as a whole is an intelligent, multilayered accomplishment, and well worth reading." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Though the forced, contrived plot almost submerges the novel, the sensuous apprehension of a distant, perilous, ineffably beautiful world draws us in and won't let us go." Kirkus Reviews
"Boyden, author of Three Day Road (2005), spins a mesmerizing double narrative, taking readers on an often-dark journey of the spirit and the soul." Booklist
"Will's and Annie's linked stories, full of many eccentric characters, attest to their family's future survival despite all the misfortune and heartbreak. Boyden writes with unassailable authenticity." Library Journal
"The winner of the 2008 Giller Prize, Canada's top literary award, has just been released in the United States, where I suspect the response will be mixed. Much of this novel reflects its crisp, poetic title, but overall the quality of Through Black Spruce
wobbles erratically, and what's weakest about the book is its depiction of what we know best: American depravity." Ron Charles, The Washington Post Book World
(read the entire Washington Post Book World review
This work from the author of Three Day Road finds Will Bird, a legendary Cree bush pilot, lying in a coma. His niece has returned from her own perilous journey to sit beside his bed. Broken in different ways, the two take silent communion in their unspoken kinship.
A haunting novel of love, identity, and loss-from the internationally acclaimed author of Three Day Road
Beautifully written and startlingly original, Through Black Spruce takes the considerable talents of Canadian novelist Joseph Boyden to new and exciting heights. This is the story of two immensely compelling characters: Will Bird, a legendary Cree bush pilot who lies comatose in a remote Ontario hospital; and Annie Bird, Will's niece, a beautiful loner and trapper who has come to sit beside her uncle's bed. Broken in different ways, the two take silent communion in their unspoken kinship, revealing a story rife with heartbreak, fierce love, ancient feuds, mysterious disappearances, murders, and the bonds that hold a family, and a people, together. From the rugged Canadian wilderness to the drug-fueled glamour of the Manhattan club scene, this is thrilling, atmospheric storytelling at its finest.
About the Author
Joseph Boyden is Instructor of English at the University of New Orleans. He has published short fiction in Black Warrior Review, Cimmaron review, Blue Penny Quarterly, and Green Hills Literary Lantern, along with a collection of short stories, Born with a Tooth (2001).