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Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson
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Monkey Beach (original 2000; edition 2000)

by Eden Robinson

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4971536,518 (4.11)41
A young Native American woman remembers her volatile childhood as she searches for her lost brother in the Canadian wilds in an extraordinary, critically acclaimed debut novel As she races along Canada's Douglas Channel in her speedboat--heading toward the place where her younger brother Jimmy, presumed drowned, was last seen--twenty-year-old Lisamarie Hill recalls her younger days. A volatile and precocious Native girl growing up in Kitamaat, the Haisla Indian reservation located five hundred miles north of Vancouver, Lisa came of age standing with her feet firmly planted in two different worlds: the spiritual realm of the Haisla and the sobering "real" world with its dangerous temptations of violence, drugs, and despair. From her beloved grandmother, Ma-ma-oo, she learned of tradition and magic; from her adored, Elvis-loving uncle Mick, a Native rights activist on a perilous course, she learned to see clearly, to speak her mind, and never to bow down. But the tragedies that have scarred her life and ultimately led her to these frigid waters cannot destroy her indomitable spirit, even though the ghosts that speak to her in the night warn her that the worst may be yet to come.   Easily one of the most admired debut novels to appear in many a decade, Eden Robinson's Monkey Beach was immediately greeted with universal acclaim--called "gripping" by the San Diego Union-Tribune, "wonderful" by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and "glorious" by the Globe and Mail, earning nominations for numerous literary awards before receiving the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. Evocative, moving, haunting, and devastatingly funny, it is an extraordinary read from a brilliant literary voice that must be heard.… (more)
Member:aarti
Title:Monkey Beach
Authors:Eden Robinson
Info:Think Publishing (2000), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Rating:*****
Tags:2014, Historical Fiction, Native American, Canada, 20th Century, Folk Tales, Magical Realism

Work details

Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson (2000)

  1. 30
    Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson (browner56)
    browner56: The Pacific Northwest sets the stage for these engrossing and highly atmospheric novels
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» See also 41 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Loved the pace and the timeline shifts. A good example of 'show not tell' and a complex natural and human environment. Very poignant. And not quite resolved in a very satisfying way. I had never heard of it before I picked it off the shelf for it's intriguing cover but I'm not surprised at all that it has been a set text for other reviewers. ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | Jan 23, 2021 |
Absolutely fabulous book! I struggled a bit with appreciating the ending despite normally feeling good about things being left ambiguous. I guess I was more invested in the characters than I normally am (which speaks to the character development). Would read again in a heartbeat. ( )
  munchie13 | Mar 27, 2019 |
Monkey Beach is a poignant read that sheds light on the lives of Indigenous people living in a remote part of the British Columbia coast. On one hand, the book shares fascinating insights into Haisla lore and culture on their traditional territory, and on the other, the harsh reality of the impact that colonization has had on Indigenous people like Lisa’s family. As a teen in 1980s Kitamaat Village, Lisa has to make sense of a world where Oolichan grease and shape-shifters coexist with Alcan and the Overwaitea, and where her gift for sensing something bad is about to happen does not make her losses any less devastating.

I lost track of the different timelines at the end of the story and despite rereading it, I’m still not sure if she ended up in (the title of chapter four) or was just visiting. After speaking with the author, I learned that that is the way she intended it.

Search Google Maps for “Bishops Bay -Monkey Beach Conservancy” to get an idea of the remoteness of this place and picture Lisa walking through this forest with her grandmother, or boating there alone all the way from Kitamaat Village. Kitamaat Village, was the home of the Elizabeth Long Residential School, which operated until 1940. ( )
1 vote Lindsay_W | Jul 19, 2018 |
Beautifully descriptive, definitely thought-provoking. ( )
  Jolynne | Mar 20, 2018 |
Almost unbearably sad with unforgettable characters. Got a bit too gothic for me by the end but I was totally enthralled by the narrative voice. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
It is possible to retaliate against an enemy,
But impossible to retaliate against storms.

--Haisla Proverb
Dedication
First words
Six crows sit in our greengage tree. Half-awake, I hear them speak to me in Haisla.
Quotations
Never trust the spirit world too much. They think different from the living
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A young Native American woman remembers her volatile childhood as she searches for her lost brother in the Canadian wilds in an extraordinary, critically acclaimed debut novel As she races along Canada's Douglas Channel in her speedboat--heading toward the place where her younger brother Jimmy, presumed drowned, was last seen--twenty-year-old Lisamarie Hill recalls her younger days. A volatile and precocious Native girl growing up in Kitamaat, the Haisla Indian reservation located five hundred miles north of Vancouver, Lisa came of age standing with her feet firmly planted in two different worlds: the spiritual realm of the Haisla and the sobering "real" world with its dangerous temptations of violence, drugs, and despair. From her beloved grandmother, Ma-ma-oo, she learned of tradition and magic; from her adored, Elvis-loving uncle Mick, a Native rights activist on a perilous course, she learned to see clearly, to speak her mind, and never to bow down. But the tragedies that have scarred her life and ultimately led her to these frigid waters cannot destroy her indomitable spirit, even though the ghosts that speak to her in the night warn her that the worst may be yet to come.   Easily one of the most admired debut novels to appear in many a decade, Eden Robinson's Monkey Beach was immediately greeted with universal acclaim--called "gripping" by the San Diego Union-Tribune, "wonderful" by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and "glorious" by the Globe and Mail, earning nominations for numerous literary awards before receiving the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. Evocative, moving, haunting, and devastatingly funny, it is an extraordinary read from a brilliant literary voice that must be heard.

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