Book Review: Indians on Vacation by Thomas King

 


Last year, I decided to pick up a book by one of Canada's foremost authors. Thomas King is a household name amongst Canadians in the same way as Margaret Atwood is. Born a Californian, King spends most of his career teaching in Canada. His book, The Inconvenient Indian demolishes the false history and narratives about Native Americans in the US and First Nations people in Canada. 

One of my goals this year is to read more books from Native American authors. It's not because I'm harboring some kind of obligation but because I know my ratio of books from different races versus white authors is a little wonky. Expanding my horizon, if you will. As well, I noticed how biased my choices are in learning about World History. I'm a Canadian who didn't go to school here, and who rarely follow our politics. This was my way of trying to learn: read more books from Canadian authors, particularly from Indigenous descent. 

This book, is perhaps, an easy favourite. Not only for the ease of King's narrative, but also for the way he discussed social issues of class, race, displacement, and mental health so seamlessly that you won't noticed until you go back a few sentences to re-read. This book follows Bird and Mimi. They're on a quest to find some relic from Mimi's uncle. Clues were left via mail and post cards from Europe, and so the couple found themselves in Prague first. 

From there, we see a perspective from this couple about their own history and their marriage as they witness the world around them. Throughout the story, we see Bird fall slowly to his illness; some sort of rheumatological disease that affects mostly Asian and Indigenous people. We also see him stroll all over Europe with the accompaniment of his "demons" -- which for us mere mortals, represent all the self defeating attitudes and mindsets that plagued us day in and day out. 

As they run into Syrian refugees who came by boats to Greece, they're confronted by how easily they turn away from the needs of others. It also affected me in a way. Especially now that we are in a raging pandemic. People busking for coins on the street or intersections and I easily ignore them and say, well, I can't open the car door or window, now can I? Further reinforcing the fact that we could find excuses not to help out. Don't get me wrong, this book didn't come off preachy. It was just how we should think about our actions next time and how we could balance the good and the bad. 

I especially love the relationship between Mimi & Bird. They've been married for a long time and it hasn't been roses and rainbows. But they remind me of how a marriage takes work, and understanding each other's flaws and misgivings only strengthen it over time.  Indians on Vacations has its moments of seriousness and sharp humour, a perfect blend of sarcasm and realness that cut through its message laced with a slight flavour of world politics and banal married life. 

Comments

  1. I usually remember authors when I have seen all their books, but I do think he is new to me :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He's fairly new to me as well. I just discovered him last year and only read one book of his.

      Delete
  2. This sounds great! I love books that stick with me and help me to be a better person.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really was. He gives his message in the subtlest way possible, so he doesn't come off preachy.

      Delete
  3. I think it's great that you're branching out! I tend to read books mostly by white American women, so I'm trying to broaden my horizons this year, too. I'd never heard of Thomas King before. I'll have to take a closer look at what he writes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Always looking for ways to expand for sure. Such a big literary world out there!

      Delete
  4. I do need to make an effort to read out of my comfort zone more often. This one is new to me and it sounds like it really had a lot to offer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah but no pressure. At the end of the day, we should read what we want to read. <3

      Delete
  5. It's the first time I hear about this one I confess. It looks good and different so that's nice!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Melliane. It was such a sublime read. :)

      Delete
  6. I'm adding this to my TBR because diversifying my reading even more is a huge goal for me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Mallory. I hope you'll enjoy it. :)

      Delete
  7. Sounds like a great book to fulfill your goal with---always nice when you can fulfill this kind of a goal with a book you end up absolutely loving!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    ReplyDelete
  8. This one sounds very good. Do you read Louise Erdrich? She has written some wonderful fiction about Native Americans.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ohh I've never heard of her. I must check out her work. Thanks for the recommendation!

      Delete
  9. I've enjoyed books but quite a few Canadian authors, and will add this to my list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kimberly. As a Canadian, I fail at this as I don't know many aside from the usual suspects. Lol.

      Delete
  10. This sounds like it touches a good amount of interesting topics well and I like how it isn't "preachy." should probably keep my eyes out for this one.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Hoarders, Books Edition [11]: Thrifting Ain't Easy

April 2021 Rewind