This post is part of the LRC’s 25 year anniversary project. We are asking our readers for the most influential Canadian books published in the last quarter century. For more information, click here.
The book I’ve chosen is John R. Saul’s The Comeback. It’s an essential summary of our “métis” past, the extent to which we have betrayed and ignored it, and a visionary look at our collective future. It’s about the amazing turnaround of the indigenous peoples of Canada—First Nations and Inuit—from a position of society’s underdog to a renewal of their earlier position as rights-holders, allies, and founding partners. This is an astonishing change, and will be part of Canada’s re-definition of itself in the coming decades.
When I was writing Survival back in 1972—a book about the themes of Canadian literature, as then constituted—“First Peoples” was the title of the second chapter in it. Though there was a lot of writing about First Peoples, there was very little writing by First Peoples. But over the last decades that situation has reversed itself, and there are now writers of the first quality, creating vibrant and exciting work at a truly staggering rate.
The Comeback gives us a context for this burst of energy. It helps us to understand, painful though the process of understanding may be. And it doesn’t let anyone off the hook. It stands beside Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian as essential reading to light the dark places on the road ahead.
Margaret Atwood is the author of more than 35 books. Her most recent book is The Heart Goes Last (2015).