Book of the Week: The Orenda by Joseph Boyden

The eagerly anticipated new novel from the Giller-winning author, The Orenda takes readers back to the mid-17th century to follow the interwoven lives of three characters: Bird, one of the Huron Nation’s great warriors, Christophe, a Jesuit missionary, and Snow Falls, a young Iroquois girl. The novel begins with Bird kidnapping Christophe and Snow Falls, and follows the characters as their lives grow more interconnected and interdependent. The characters are well-drawn and powerful, but The Orenda grows beyond the individual, and through their stories Boyden is able to capture not only the realities of several cultures, but the creation of a new country and people at its very beginnings.

The longlist of nominees for the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize will be announced on Monday morning, with a press conference at the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology. The museum’s world-renowned collection of First Nations art and artifacts will form a stunning — and appropriate —backdrop to a longlist which will, almost without a doubt, include Boyden’s stunning new novel.

The Orenda is powerful, beautiful, brutal and heartbreaking. It’s also thought-provoking, and may just change the way you view our history and how it has been taught. It’s also the sort of book that deserves every literary accolade that can be laid at its feet: expect to hear Boyden’s name from Vancouver come Monday morning.