CanLit Rewind: A Really Good Brown Girl by Marilyn Dumont

October 6, 2015

Our second book in the CanLit Rewind spotlight is  A Really Good Brown Girl by Marilyn Dumont, from London, Ontario's Brick Books. Currently celebrating forty years of publishing exceptional Canadian poetry, Brick Books selected A Really Good Brown Giras one of six of their "Classics": to be republished in a beautiful deluxe edition with a foreword by a prominent contemporary writer. We couldn't say anything about this book on growing up a Metis woman better than Brick Books, below, and the book's foreword author,  Lee Maracle: "No other book so exonerates us, elevates us and at the same time indicts Canada in language so eloquent it almost hurts to hear it."

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This year marks forty years of supporting and celebrating some of Canada's finest literary presses for our parent organization, the Literary Press Group of Canada. To help celebrate, for the entire month of October All Lit Up will be highlighting books from our publishers that either helped launch a new voice in CanLit or made an impact at the press it was published with. Go on a CanLit Rewind with us to rediscover some backlist gems!

Our second book in the CanLit Rewind spotlight is  A Really Good Brown Girl by Marilyn Dumont, from London, Ontario's Brick Books. Currently celebrating forty years of publishing exceptional Canadian poetry, Brick Books selected A Really Good Brown Girl as one of six of their "Classics": to be republished in a beautiful deluxe edition with a foreword by a prominent contemporary writer. We couldn't say anything about this book on growing up a Metis woman better than Brick Books, below, and the book's foreword author, Lee Maracle: "No other book so exonerates us, elevates us and at the same time indicts Canada in language so eloquent it almost hurts to hear it."

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First published in 1996, A Really Good Brown Girl is a fierce, honest and courageous account of what it takes to grow into one’s self and one’s Metis heritage in the face of myriad institutional and cultural obstacles. It is an indispensable contribution to Canadian literature. Something about the intent in Dumont's voice – both the insistence on making her story heard and the clarity with which she tells that story – has resonated with readers and made this book one of the most popular Canadian poetry titles of the last 25 years. It won the 1997 Gerald Lampert Award for Best First Book of Poetry, was listed as a Globe 100 book in 1997 and received an Honourable Mention in the 1997

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VanCity Book Prize. Dumont's collection has been taught in courses North-America wide. The original version of the book (pictured left) has been reprinted 13 times: the new edition marks printing #14.

The success of A Really Good Brown Girl has strengthened our reputation as a truly national press. Our mandate has always been to publish the best work from across the country, from as diverse a range of voices as possible. We receive a lot of submissions from writers in the prairie provinces, and I think that the publication of A Really Good Brown Girl has something to do with that.  The book has also given our press a visibility at events celebrating First Nations people, and in libraries and bookstores across the country that carry First Nations literature.

With regards to the CanLit canon, A Really Good Brown Girl is an essential text about the Metis-Canadian experience. It speaks to a time in our country's history. And because the struggles of First Nations people for rights and recognition in Canada remain a reality, A Really Good Brown Girl feels as contemporary as it did upon its initial publication. It will always have a place in our canon.

You can hear Dumont reading from A Really Good Brown Girl, below.

 

 

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Thanks so much to Brick Books for sharing A Really Good Brown Girl with us. We know how powerful this text is, and it was our pleasure to  tweet from it on National Aboriginal Day this past year. Marilyn's newest collection,  The Pemmican Eaters, is now available from ECW Press. 


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