Monkey Beach by Eden RobinsonMonkey Beach by Eden Robinson

Monkey Beach

byEden Robinson

Paperback | January 9, 2001

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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 Native settlement of Kitamaat, on the coast of British Columbia.

The story grips the reader from the beginning. It is the morning after the narrator’s brother has gone missing at sea; the mood is tense in the family house, as speculations remain unspoken. Jimmy is a prospective Olympic swimmer, seventeen years old and on the edge of proposing to his beautiful girlfriend Karaoke. As his elder sister, Lisa, faces possible disaster, she chain-smokes and drifts into thoughts of their lives so far. She recalls the time when she and Jimmy saw the sasquatch, or b’gwus – and this sighting introduces the novel's fascinating undercurrent of characters from the spirit world. These ghostly presences may strike the reader as mysterious or frightening, but they provide Lisa with guidance through a difficult coming of age.

In and out of the emergency room as a child, Lisa is a fighter. Her smart mouth and temper constantly threaten to land her in serious trouble. Those who have the most influence on her are her stubbornly traditional, machete-wielding grandmother, and her wild, passionate, political Uncle Mick, who teaches her to make moose calls. When they empty fishing nets together, she pretends she doesn’t feel the jellyfish stinging her young hands – she’s Uncle Mick’s “little warrior.”

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.

Monkey Beach, Eden Robinson’s first novel, was nominated for Canada’s two largest literary prizes: the Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award. The book was also published in Great Britain, the United States and Germany, and was a Canadian bestseller for many weeks. Monkey Beach is beautifully written, in prose that is simple and subtle, bold and vivid, and pervaded by humour.

Robinson fills her novel with details of Haisla culture and the rich wildlife surrounding Kitamaat. She uses traditional elements of storytelling – such as dreams, and people’s ties to nature – but also demystifies Native beliefs, simultaneously peeling away and intensifying the mystery surrounding spirits. Ancient rituals are shown as part of the reality of a modern Native community, along with Kraft Dinner and TV soaps and the legacy of residential schools. Robinson’s previous book of stories, Traplines, was remarked upon for being brutally honest, featuring rapists and drunks and drug dealers, psychopaths and sadists – proving to The New York Times that “Canadians are as weird and violent as anyone else.” Monkey Beach is just as honest, but only hints at the darker elements. In the words of the author, “None of the characters are bad. They’re just reacting like anyone else to situations of loss and death.”
“I was born on the same day as Edgar Allan Poe and Dolly Parton: January 19. I am absolutely certain that this affects my writing in some way.”One of Eden Robinson’s biggest literary influences has been Stephen King, whose books she read compulsively between the ages of ten and fourteen, when she started writing her own stories. “I wa...

interview with the author

1) Can you tell us how you became a writer?

I was an avid reader long before I considered becoming a writer. When I was young, I wanted to be an astronaut, so I was focused on the sciences and math until NASA started using shuttles. I wanted to go up in a rocket because they seemed more romantic than shuttles, and so I gave up on the idea of being an astronaut. I spent my grade ten year debating my future career–pastry chef, stewardess, biologist–before some of my English teachers encouraged me to explore writing.

2) What inspired you to write this particular book? Is there a story about the writing of this novel that begs to be told?

Monkey Beach was originally a short story. I brought it into a workshop, and they pointed out that it was a string of interesting anecdotes about drowning, but not an actual short story. It didn’t even have a main character at that point. My mother had told me stories about fishing accidents when I was a child, and I’d been trying to recapture that feeling of dread and wonder you get when you’re working on the ocean. I expanded the story until it became a novella, at which point my agent said it was going to be a novel. I didn’t believe her until I hit page 200 and there still wasn’t an end in sight.

3) What is that you’re exploring in this book?

The redemptive power of love. All the characters are dealing with love or the lack of it.

4) Who is your favourite character in this book, and why?

I have a soft spot for Uncle Mick. All the sections with him in it came easy because he’s such an energetic, nutty character.

5) Are there any tips you would give a book club to better navigate their discussion of your book?

At home, we get together after dinner and have coffee. One person starts telling stories, and then people chime in, add details, debate details, tell related stories and then wind back to the person who was telling the first story. Coffee went as long as the story needed to be told. I wanted Monkey Beach to have that kind of structure: so it’s more or less linear, with different characters chiming in.

6) Do you have a favourite story to tell about being interviewed about your book?

One interviewer kept calling me by my main character’s name, Lisa. She asked me how it felt when my brother was reported missing, and I burst out laughing. She looked shocked and I had to explain that I wasn’t Lisa, and my own brother wasn’t missing. In fact, he was waiting for me at a nearby café where we were going to get together and plan my website. She kept calling me Lisa right to the end, and then afterwards, gave me the business card of a grief councilor.

7) What question are you never asked in interviews but wish you were?

Did you have a favourite pet? Yes, my canary Elvis, who didn’t sing. When I let her out of her cage to fly around my apartment, she would land on my computer when she got tired and watch me write. She died the day Monkey Beach was finished, and I was elated and devastated at the same time. It was kind of embarrassing to miss something so small so much, but she was there through all the tough parts of the book, watching over me.

8) Has a review or profile ever changed your perspective on your work?

One reviewer detailed–page by page–how many times people in my book smoked, and then gave Monkey Beach a bad review because he thought my main character was an unhealthy influence on today’s native youth. Before that, I’d agonized over every review, good or bad. Now I can take them with a grain of salt and extract the things that are useful to me and ignore the things that aren’t.

9) Which authors have been most influential to your own writing?

I blame Stephen King for my love of horror, but it was probably Edgar Allen Poe who kicked that off. My grade four teacher had two passions: The Sound of Music and Poe. He’d dance through the class singing Edelweiss, and then we’d read “The Pit and the Pendulum” or “The Telltale Heart.” Poe was born on the same day as me, January 19, along with Dolly Parton. I’m sure that influences my writing in some way.

10) If you weren’t writing, what would you want to be doing for a living? What are some of your other passions in life?

If I wasn’t writing, I’d probably own a stationary store. I love being around paper and pens and organizing gadgets. When I was living in Vancouver, a Staples store opened next door to my apartment building and I knew it was getting bad when the clerks started greeting me by name. I knew it was really bad when I started maxing out my credit cards.

11) If you could have written one book in history, what book would that be?

Pride and Prejudice. It’s my comfort book. Whenever things go bad, I turn to Austen. I had to stop reading her for a while when I was writing Monkey Beach because one of my characters was turning into Darcy.
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Title:Monkey BeachFormat:PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 8 × 5.15 × 0.78 inPublished:January 9, 2001Publisher:Knopf CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0676973221

ISBN - 13:9780676973228

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from An important novel Monkey Beach is an important novel because it gives voice to a minority group which is generally silenced. From the perspective of a young Haisla woman we experience the complicated familial relationships that lisa-marie (main character) grows up with. We also learn about the Haisla culture alongside Lisa-marie. I've read this book for both academic reasons and for a lazy read and have found immense pleasure in both reads.
Date published: 2017-12-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My absolute favourite book ever!!! I first read Monkey Beach when I was just a bit younger than the main character Lisa. The book moved me then in so many ways. My second reading was in a first year uni class and it moved me in completely different ways. I then read it again outside of class and have since read it a few more times. Each reading, like another reviewer wrote, is like going home. The familial relationships, the connection to place and culture (in ways that are about the dailiness of being a part of a community and how that connects you to culture) the remembering of childhood, the way the author is able to describe a setting and bring you right into that place, all these things make this book an excellent read and one I will continue to go back to time and again. I grew up in a community similar to Lisa's and I appreciate the authors rendering of community, family and personal life in these spaces and totally recommend reading her book Traplines for even more insight into this story. Read this first!!!
Date published: 2017-11-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Re-read last week for a second time! I have now read this novel twice and both times I deeply enjoyed it. There are gothic elements, magical elements, historic elements, a story of family tragedy, and even how-to book elements. Eden Robinson is phenomenal, and this is her at her best! *** If you love this book make sure to read the last short story in Robinson's Trap Lines (Queen of the North) it is the prequel to Monkey Beach and told from Karaoke's perspective.
Date published: 2017-09-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Modern Folke Lore The careful and tenuous, innocuously passionate prose of Robinson is haunting and pervasive in its visceral realism and suggestive mysticism. Once upon a time, you heard a lullaby that sounded like this and every time you read it, it's like returning home. A rare find. What Valente was trying to do with Deathless.
Date published: 2017-04-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must read I have read this book multiple times and every time I walk away with a being on the other side of what happen in the end. Once you pick this book up it's hard to put down.
Date published: 2017-04-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from BUY THIS BOOK I was an English Major in university and read many, many books. This book was by far my favourite of all the texts that I read. It is poignant, powerful, poetic and so much more. I cannot express enough how special this book is nor do I want to because I don't want to give away a single piece of it. Just trust me, you will not regret adding this book to your cart.
Date published: 2016-12-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Humorous, heartbreaking, insightful This book really was such a mixture - loved the humor, the family relationships were loving as well as confrontational, irrational - pretty much what a lot of us can identify with. The culture of the Haisla was both insightful and wondrous - belief in the spirit world played a huge part of this story. A book I would read again for sure and would recommend.
Date published: 2015-06-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Witness a culture through an authentic source. My eyes were opened wide with the lifestyle, and thought processing through the main character of this story. It was refreshingly informative, and I feel almost a sense of relieve by the education I recieved about this culture. Great story. I thought it was fantastic.
Date published: 2015-03-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Monkey Beach Riveting. Mystical and very real. The ambiguities may spring from either source. I loved it.
Date published: 2014-08-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gripping! Absolutly gripping with suspence!
Date published: 2011-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! We selected this book for our book club. It's the best one we've read. Coming from northwestern BC, with a strong native community, everything that she writes is true to life. Uplifting and tragic, I can't recommend this enough.
Date published: 2009-04-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Life Changing... This is the coming-of-age story of Lisa, a young Haisla woman living in the village of Kitimaat, a remote village in northern British Columbia. Her brother has gone missing and she has set out in a small boat to find him. Monkey Beach is the cumulation of all the events of Lisa’s life. Lisa is the sister of a gifted Olympic-bound swimmer, the niece of a fiercely independent Uncle Mick, and the daughter of a woman who had a life long before she met the man she would marry. Robinson is a gifted storyteller, moving easily between the present and all of the events which led up to it. Weaving in aspects of traditional life, Robinson manages to reveal enough to satisfy the reader’s desire to understand, without violating respect for ancient wisdom. The greatest strength of this novel, however, is its capacity to inspire dialogue between readers. Never have I encountered a book that when I mention I have read it, others immediately ask about my interpretation of the events. This book was replete with many questions; however it remained a satisfying read because I had my own interpretations of what was written between the lines. I devoured this book for among its pages I discovered my own life written in a way that allowed me to reconsider conclusions I had made long ago. It led me to believe that had I read such a book much earlier in my life, I might have found a way to look at myself very differently.
Date published: 2008-10-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lost in the waters I was so impressed with Monkey Beach! It's an immediate favourite of mine. Robinson's descriptions of life as a native woman in Canada are compelling and sometimes quite sad. I couldn't, for the life of me, put this book down. Although there is a mystical side to the novel, it's believable as part of a native tradition, and as part of Lisamarie's life. A wonderful book by a great up and coming Canadian Author!
Date published: 2008-10-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Happily surprised I read this book for a literature class, and more often than not, reading books for class makes me not love them. A book really must be something special to overcome the 'work' context, and Monkey Beach did it. I was charmed, amused, horrified and completely engaged. This book was a delight.
Date published: 2008-03-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worth picking up A very captivating and moving read! Although I finished this book several weeks ago, Lisamarie's powerful story continues to linger in my mind. This book was also interesting and informative because it provided me with some insight into the Haisla Nation's tradition and culture. I look forward to reading Eden Robinson's first book, Traplines.
Date published: 2001-05-02

Read from the Book

Six crows sit in our greengage tree. Half-awake, I hear them speak to me in Haisla.La'es, they say, La'es, la'es.I push myself out of bed and go to the open window, but they launch themselves upward, cawing. Morning light slants over the mountains behind the reserve. A breeze coming down the channel makes my curtains flap limply. Ripples sparkle in the shallows as a seal bobs its dark head.La'es — Go down to the bottom of the ocean. The word means something else, but I can't remember what. I had too much coffee last night after the Coast Guard called with the news about Jimmy. People pressed cups and cups of it into my hands. Must have fallen asleep fourish. On the nightstand, the clock-face has a badly painted Elvis caught in mid-gyrate. Jimmy found it at a garage sale and gave it to me last year for my birthday — that and a card that said, "Hap B-day, sis! How does it feel to be almost two decades old? Rock on, Grandma!" The Elvis clock says the time is seven-thirty, but it's always either an hour ahead or an hour behind. We always joke that it's on Indian time. I go to my dresser and pull out my first cigarette of the day, then return to the window and smoke. An orange cat pauses at the grassy shoreline, alert. It flicks its tail back and forth, then bounds up the beach and into a tangle of bushes near our neighbour's house. The crows are tiny black dots against a faded denim sky. In the distance, I hear a speedboat. For the last week, I have been dreaming about the ocean-lapping softly against the hull of a boat, hissing as it rolls gravel up a beach, ocean swells hammering the shore, lifting off the rocks in an ethereal spray before the waves make a grumbling retreat. Such a lovely day. Late summer. Warm. Look at the pretty, fluffy clouds. Weather reports are all favourable for the area where his seiner went missing. Jimmy's a good swimmer. Everyone says this like a mantra that will keep him safe. No one's as optimistic about his skipper, Josh, a hefty good-time guy who is very popular for his generosity at bars and parties. He is also heavily in debt and has had a bad fishing season. Earlier this summer two of his crew quit, bitterly complaining to their relatives that he didn't pay them all they were due. They came by last night to show their support. One of my cousins said they've been spreading rumours that Josh might have sunk his Queen of the North for the insurance and that Jimmy's inexperience on the water would make him a perfect scapegoat. They were whispering to other visitors last night, but Aunt Edith glared at them until they took the hint and left.I stub out the cigarette and take the steps two at a time down to the kitchen. My father's at the table, smoking. His ashtray is overflowing. He glances at me, eyes bloodshot and red-rimmed.Did you hear the crows earlier?" I say. When he doesn't answer, I find myself babbling. "They were talking to me. They said la'es. It's probably — ""Clearly a sign, Lisa," my mother has come up behind me and grips my shoulders, "that you need Prozac." She steers me to a chair and pushes me down. Dad's old VHF is tuned to the emergency channel. Normally, we have the radio tuned to CFTK. He likes it loud, and the morning soft rock usually rackets through the house. As we sit in silence, I watch his cigarette burn down in the ashtray. Mom smoothes her hair. She keeps touching it. They both have that glazed, drawn look of people who haven't slept. I have this urge to turn on some music. If they had found the seiner, someone would phone us. "Pan, pan, pan," a woman's voice crackles over the VHF. "All stations, this is the Prince Rupert Coast Guard." She repeats everything three times, I don't know why. "We have an overdue vessel." She goes on to describe a gillnetter that should have been in Rupert four days ago. Mom and Dad tense expectantly even though this has nothing to do with Jimmy.At any given moment, there are two thousand storms at sea.

Bookclub Guide

1) Can you tell us how you became a writer?I was an avid reader long before I considered becoming a writer. When I was young, I wanted to be an astronaut, so I was focused on the sciences and math until NASA started using shuttles. I wanted to go up in a rocket because they seemed more romantic than shuttles, and so I gave up on the idea of being an astronaut. I spent my grade ten year debating my future career–pastry chef, stewardess, biologist–before some of my English teachers encouraged me to explore writing. 2) What inspired you to write this particular book? Is there a story about the writing of this novel that begs to be told?Monkey Beach was originally a short story. I brought it into a workshop, and they pointed out that it was a string of interesting anecdotes about drowning, but not an actual short story. It didn’t even have a main character at that point. My mother had told me stories about fishing accidents when I was a child, and I’d been trying to recapture that feeling of dread and wonder you get when you’re working on the ocean. I expanded the story until it became a novella, at which point my agent said it was going to be a novel. I didn’t believe her until I hit page 200 and there still wasn’t an end in sight. 3) What is that you’re exploring in this book? The redemptive power of love. All the characters are dealing with love or the lack of it. 4) Who is your favourite character in this book, and why? I have a soft spot for Uncle Mick. All the sections with him in it came easy because he’s such an energetic, nutty character. 5) Are there any tips you would give a book club to better navigate their discussion of your book? At home, we get together after dinner and have coffee. One person starts telling stories, and then people chime in, add details, debate details, tell related stories and then wind back to the person who was telling the first story. Coffee went as long as the story needed to be told. I wanted Monkey Beach to have that kind of structure: so it’s more or less linear, with different characters chiming in.6) Do you have a favourite story to tell about being interviewed about your book?One interviewer kept calling me by my main character’s name, Lisa. She asked me how it felt when my brother was reported missing, and I burst out laughing. She looked shocked and I had to explain that I wasn’t Lisa, and my own brother wasn’t missing. In fact, he was waiting for me at a nearby café where we were going to get together and plan my website. She kept calling me Lisa right to the end, and then afterwards, gave me the business card of a grief councilor. 7) What question are you never asked in interviews but wish you were?Did you have a favourite pet? Yes, my canary Elvis, who didn’t sing. When I let her out of her cage to fly around my apartment, she would land on my computer when she got tired and watch me write. She died the day Monkey Beach was finished, and I was elated and devastated at the same time. It was kind of embarrassing to miss something so small so much, but she was there through all the tough parts of the book, watching over me.8) Has a review or profile ever changed your perspective on your work?One reviewer detailed–page by page–how many times people in my book smoked, and then gave Monkey Beach a bad review because he thought my main character was an unhealthy influence on today’s native youth. Before that, I’d agonized over every review, good or bad. Now I can take them with a grain of salt and extract the things that are useful to me and ignore the things that aren’t. 9) Which authors have been most influential to your own writing? I blame Stephen King for my love of horror, but it was probably Edgar Allen Poe who kicked that off. My grade four teacher had two passions: The Sound of Music and Poe. He’d dance through the class singing Edelweiss, and then we’d read “The Pit and the Pendulum” or “The Telltale Heart.” Poe was born on the same day as me, January 19, along with Dolly Parton. I’m sure that influences my writing in some way.10) If you weren’t writing, what would you want to be doing for a living? What are some of your other passions in life?If I wasn’t writing, I’d probably own a stationary store. I love being around paper and pens and organizing gadgets. When I was living in Vancouver, a Staples store opened next door to my apartment building and I knew it was getting bad when the clerks started greeting me by name. I knew it was really bad when I started maxing out my credit cards. 11) If you could have written one book in history, what book would that be?Pride and Prejudice. It’s my comfort book. Whenever things go bad, I turn to Austen. I had to stop reading her for a while when I was writing Monkey Beach because one of my characters was turning into Darcy.

From Our Editors

In the remote town of Kitamaat, B.C., on a quiet Indian reserve, 20-year-old Lisamarie grows restless. She jumps into her speedboat and races to Monkey Beach, the shore famous for Sasquatch sightings. What Lisamarie is searching for in this rare coming-of-age novel is her brother Jimmy and her own answers to life. Monkey Beach will keep readers intrigued until its stunning conclusion.

Editorial Reviews

“Robinson’s tribute to the Pacific Northwest and Haisla culture, embodied in her stout-hearted heroine and all her other vital and complex characters, does what good literature does best: it moves meaningfully from the particular to the universal and back again. And Robinson performs this feat with genuine insight, wry humor and transcendent lyricism.”—Chicago Tribune“It is, in the best sense, a thriller, a spiritual mystery. The underlying plot centers on what exactly has happened to Jimmy (and why), a question that is only answered in the book's breathtaking final pages.”—The Washington Post“Tough, tender and fierce.”—Sherman Alexie“Unflinching, moving and shockingly, bloodily funny. Eden Robinson offers a raw, muscular, urgent new voice: she writes from the heart.”—A. L. Kennedy on Traplines“Eden Robinson is one of those rare artists who comes to writing with a skill and maturity that has taken the rest of us decades to achieve.”—Thomas King"A graceful and impressive book."—Times Literary Supplement"Far more than a novel of psychological transformation... It is, in the best sense, a thriller, a spiritual mystery... breathtaking... Robinson rewards our faith that after all these years writers can still, as Pound said, 'make it new.' In this year's lineup of lookalike literary prospects she could be the Willie Mays we've been hoping for."—The Washington Post"Glorious Northern Gothic... . A compelling story...Robinson has an artist's eye, and delicately evokes the astonishing natural beauty of the Kitamaat region...behind Lisa's neutral voice is an authorial presence, weaving Haisla and Heiltsuk lore into the fabric of the novel gracefully, but with the quiet determination of an archivist cataloguing a disappearing way of life... a deeply satisfying conclusion."—The Globe and Mail, January 22, 2000"Monkey Beach is a moody, powerful novel full of memorable characters. Reading it was like entering a pool of emerald water to discover a haunted world shivering with loss and love, regret and sorrow, where the spirit world is as real as the human. I was sucked into it with the very first sentence and when I left, it was with a feeling of immense reluctance."—Anita Rau Badami"Remarkable...Reads like a friend's conversation over coffee — warm, genuine...The simple, straight-to-the-heart prose gives each element, each event in the story, the same weight and perception of reality...Monkey Beach is both unusual and memorable...The book is a work of a deft talent, all the more remarkable that it is a first work."—Denver Post"Although death hangs like a Pacific mist over these pages, Robinson, herself a Haisla, fills this edifying book with the stuff of the living, from the tiniest details of Haisla life to the mightiest universals of tradition, desire and family love."—LA Times Book Review"Monkey Beach...is written with poise, intelligence and playfulness... Intricately patterned... there is much to admire in this tale of grief and survival...In Lisamarie Hill, Robinson has created a memorable character, a young woman who finds a way to survive even as everything around her decays."—National Post, January 22, 2000"...we bear witness as she spreads her wings — not one note rings false. All the characters...are stubbornly real, mixtures of good and evil. This is Robinson at her best...this is a world worth every ounce of remembrance."—Toronto Star, Jan. 23, 2000"A whirling magical style." "Native writer's debut novel catalogues the touch, sound and taste of Haisla life."—The Hamilton Spectator, January 29, 2000"A first novel that bristles with energy — and a spunky heroine.... A haunting coming-of-age story [whose] the tragic elements are leavened with wonderful moments of humour...The characters in the book emerge brilliantly."—Maclean's"[Robinson's] command of language and ability to create three-dimensional, believable characters result in a hypnotic, heady sensory experience —. The beauty of the book is in the details —Robinson combines mortal and spiritual worlds, the past and the present, seamlessly fusing them into a cogent, non-linear narrative —. Riveting."—NOW (four-star review)"Robinson...cuts through the superficial and goes straight to the heart."—eye Weekly"Robinson's specialty is presenting the day-to-day: no bells, no whistles, no filtered lenses...but a lot of close-ups... The humour is pure, but the grit and blood is mixed with meditations on still waters, ancestral voices, ghostly footsteps and beating hearts...[Monkey Beach is] an important work of understanding."—Edmonton Journal"Traplines was acclaimed for its startling blend of reality, brutality and humour — Monkey Beach carries [Robinson's] signature. But it does more. The dark humour is still pure, but the grit and blood is now mixed with meditations on still waters, ancestral voices, ghostly footsteps and beating hearts."—The Vancouver Sun"Eden Robinson taps her own Haisla-Heiltsuk heritage to hurl [our Native] stereotypes into the West Coast mist and cigarette fumes that drift through her story. Her heroine, Lisamarie, is fierce and funny and screwed up, [and] her story, told through her memories of a past both rich and troubled, reveals a woman as strong and intricate as a carved mask."—Chatelaine"Monkey Beach is an important novel. It exposes the redemptive, vital lives of a once dying culture with Robinson's insider compassion and trickster wit—. Robinson has energy; she resists the slickster sophistication that dries out so much of today's fiction; her humour is not urbane and nasty but shifty and wise."—Quill & Quire"Robinson's characters are refreshingly real, simply yet elegantly wrought"—Elm Street"Monkey Beach is a gift."—Homemaker's"Monkey Beach...is pervaded by a powerful sense of menace, and the haunting spirituality that lurks in the beautiful landscape of Canada's Pacific coast."—Independent"Fans of Robinson's bleak, compelling shorts won't be disappointed."—Esquire"Beautifully written and haunting, this is an impressive debut."—Times"Her debut novel is an absorbing, if at times, disturbing, imaginative work."—Daily Telegraph"In her debut novel, Monkey Beach, Eden Robinson, a young First Nations woman who grew up in Haisla territory near Kitimat BC, does not wring her hands or cast blame. This is a candid and contemporary tale of family love and societal screw-ups and she simply acknowledges the reality of an unfolding universe."—Kitchener-Waterloo Record"Well worth reading...a complicated fabric of disaster and redemption."—Newsday"A gripping read... Smart, lyrical, simple prose, dramatic and affecting... Her truths, like her heroine, are young, raw, stark...Nature is evoked so vividly that chronology seems almost artifice. You see the seasons through Lisa's eyes, as if they are calendars and clocks, until place becomes time, and you understand the world that was lost."—San Diego Union Tribune"A wonderful read...Lyrical but straightforward, enchanting... ultimately, redemptive."—Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel