Praise for In the Upper Country
"Kai Thomas' In the Upper Country
is a sweeping epic that imagines all the ways our ancestors tried to get free. This is an exciting new voice in fiction, as interested in the complexities of land and belonging as in the vagaries of human love and connection." —Kaitlyn Greenidge, author of Libertie
"Stories within stories; until I read them, I hadn't realised these are ones I'd long been wanting, needing even. In this remarkable debut, Kai Thomas fills out the picture of a place, a time, peoples and their relationships, all previously neglected in the day-to-day unfolding of the nations. His immensely compelling details, and a host of voices so well-wrought you can see and hear the speakers long after you've finished reading, will leave you eager to see what he'll do next."—Shani Mootoo, author of Polar Vortex
"In the Upper Country
is not only fiction alive with history; it is historic
… In the Upper Country
reminds me—yes—of Lawrence Hill’s Book of Negroes
and Ernest J. Gaines’s A Lesson Before Dying
. And practically every page turns up a sentence or a phrase that could have been penned by Toni Morrison or James Baldwin… a gift of lyric genius to enthrall all—and to educate Afro-Métis people about the love and courage that enabled their creation." —George Elliott Clarke, Author of Where Beauty Survived: An Africadian Memoir
"Canadian history has long oppressed and neglected the Black and Indigenous stories at the foundation of the society that now exists here. That systemic erasure has deprived generations of Canadians the opportunity to learn about the historic kinship between Black and Indigenous peoples. But now, in the spirit of storytelling that has helped these cultures survive despite the horrors of history, a tremendous novel has emerged to fill that void. In the Upper Country
enlightens and empowers in a way few other literary sagas can, by humanizing people who have long been historical footnotes and bringing their stories to the centre. Kai Thomas is a visionary, an advocate, and overall a groundbreaking storytelling voice who has now contributed a classic to this country’s canon. This novel will resonate for generations to come."
—Waubgeshig Rice, bestselling author of Moon of the Crusted Snow
“[In In the Upper Country
], Thomas makes superb use of [the tale for a tale] framework, with the stories building upon one another until they reach a surprising and satisfying conclusion…Thomas uses evocative detail and immersive description to explore slavery in Canada, a country that has been mythologized as an escape from the institution…[In the Upper Country
] is a testament to the power of story and the veneration of those whose tales are often forgotten in mainstream media.” —New York Times Book Review
“Thomas’s mesmerizing debut explores freedom, family, and the interconnections between white, Black, and Indigenous communities in 1859 Canada….Thomas amplifies the women’s stories with excerpts from a collection of enslaved people’s narratives, while stories of Black Canadians during the War of 1812; and the American enslaved people who settled Dunmore add to the vivid tapestry. At once intimate and majestic, Thomas’s ambitious work heralds a bright new voice.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"The harshly real and the fantastic mingle in ways that recall Ta-Nehisi Coates’s The Water Dancer
and Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black
. What’s most impressive is Thomas’ imaginative power; sure-handed, often lyrical prose; and strong, complex, resilient women. An exceptional work that mines a rich historical vein."
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"This fascinating series of stories within stories reflects the fragmentary history of African and Indigenous people experiencing the effects of enslavement, particularly from a Canadian perspective. Engrossing and intensely readable, this book represents just the beginning of a larger narrative, with many chapters yet to be told; very highly recommended."