Book Talk: Empire of Wild: A Novel by Cherie Dimaline
“ Empire of Wild is doing everything I love in a contemporary novel and more. It is tough, funny, beautiful, honest and propulsive—all the while telling a story that needs to be told by a person who needs to be telling it.”
—Tommy Orange, author of There There
About the Book
A bold and brilliant new indigenous voice in contemporary literature makes her American debut with this kinetic, imaginative, and sensuous fable inspired by the traditional Canadian Métis legend of the Rogarou—a werewolf-like creature that haunts the roads and woods of native people’s communities.
Joan has been searching for her missing husband, Victor, for nearly a year—ever since that terrible night they’d had their first serious argument hours before he mysteriously vanished. Her Métis family has lived in their tightly knit rural community for generations, but no one keeps the old ways . . . until they have to. That moment has arrived for Joan.
One morning, grieving and severely hungover, Joan hears a shocking sound coming from inside a revival tent in a gritty Walmart parking lot. It is the unmistakable voice of Victor. Drawn inside, she sees him. He has the same face, the same eyes, the same hands, though his hair is much shorter and he's wearing a suit. But he doesn't seem to recognize Joan at all. He insists his name is Eugene Wolff, and that he is a reverend whose mission is to spread the word of Jesus and grow His flock. Yet Joan suspects there is something dark and terrifying within this charismatic preacher who professes to be a man of God . . . something old and very dangerous.
Joan turns to Ajean, an elderly foul-mouthed card shark who is one of the few among her community steeped in the traditions of her people and knowledgeable about their ancient enemies. With the help of the old Métis and her peculiar Johnny-Cash-loving, twelve-year-old nephew Zeus, Joan must find a way to uncover the truth and remind Reverend Wolff who he really is . . . if he really is. Her life, and those of everyone she loves, depends upon it.
Reviews and What Readers Say
“ Deftly written, gripping and informative. Empire of Wild is a rip-roaring read!"
“ Inventive, passionate… Smartly written with believable characters, a tight plot, and breathtaking sentences, this is a must-read literary thriller."
“ Recalls Neil Gaiman’s American Gods in its grittiness and humor as well as its depiction of gods and legendary creatures interfering in the lives of contemporary humans."
“ An emotionally complex, at times mysterious, always enthralling book that skillfully weaves threads of colonialist legacy and trauma, familial bonds, human resilience and fallibility, and so much heart.” —Book Marks
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Cherie Dimaline is an award-winning Canadian writer. Her 2017 book, The Marrow Thieves, won both the Governor General’s Award and the Kirkus Prize for Young Readers and was named a Book of Year on numerous lists including the National Public Radio, the School Library Journal and the New York Public Library. A faculty member for the MFA in Creative Writing program at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, her work continues to be published and anthologized internationally. Raised in the Georgian Bay Métis community, she now lives in Vancouver.