The Amnesty International Book Club is pleased to announce our September/October title Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson. This title has been recommended by guest Katherena Vermette, with whom you will explore the novel and read beyond the book to learn more about the human rights of Indigenous peoples, an area of work that Amnesty has long campaigned for.
Monkey Beach combines both joy and tragedy in a harrowing yet restrained story of grief and survival, and of a family on the edge of heartbreak. In the first English-language novel to be published by a Haisla writer, Eden Robinson offers a rich celebration of life in the First Nations community of Kitamaat, on the coast of British Columbia.
The story of Monkey Beach is relayed through the eyes of Lisamarie Hill, a strong young woman with supernatural abilities. Lisamarie’s brother, Jimmy, has gone missing at sea under questionable circumstances. We watch Lisa leave her teenage years behind as she waits for news of her younger brother. She reflects on the many rich episodes of their lives – so many of which take place around the water, reminding us of the news she fears, and revealing the menacing power of nature. But Lisa has a special recourse – a “gift” that enables her to see and hear spirits, and ask for their help. Perhaps in reflecting on these formidable events, a new light will be shed on the ominous circumstances in her life, and within the community of Kitamaat.
Haunting, funny, and vividly poignant, Monkey Beach gives full scope to Robinson’s startling ability to make bedfellows of comedy and the dark underside of life. Informed as much by its lush living wilderness as by the humanity of its colorful characters, Monkey Beach is a profoundly moving story about childhood and the pain of growing older–a multilayered tale of family grief and redemption.