Image credit: Nadya Kwandibens from Red Works Photography

Eden Victoria Lena Robinson was born in 1968 in the Haisla First Nation, located in British Columbia, Canada. Robinson is part of the Haisla and Heiltsuk First Nations. As her bio on Penguin Random House Canada explains, “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.”

Robinson began writing at a young age, influenced by writers like Stephen King. As she further explained in her bio, “I was a bookworm, right from the beginning. When I got bored of classes, I’d skip them and go to the library.” She graduated from the University of Victoria with her B.A. and went on to get an M.F.A. from the University of British Columbia.

Her first collection of short stories, Traplines, was published in 1996 and won Britain’s Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize for “best regional work by a Commonwealth writer.” Since then, she’s published three novels: Monkey Beach (2000), Blood Sports (2006), Son of a Trickster (2017). Monkey Beach won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and was shortlisted for both the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award. Son of a Trickster was also shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Her recent novel tackles some large themes. But, according to a review on The Globe and Mail, “Robinson is the rare Canadian author who can write about moments of extreme physical brutality without overly sensationalizing of aestheticizing them; in her book, hurting is just something certain people do to each other.”

The review concludes with the acknowledgment of that: “her depictions of the complex interplay between First Nations people of varying levels of wokeness and cultural immersion are undeniably funny and subtle.”

Robinson works to portray her identity as First Nation in a contemporary, non-sensationalized light. Instead, for example, the character of Jared is “the burnout kid in high school who sells weed cookies and has a scary mom who’s often wasted and wielding some kind of weapon.” Robinson creates characters for indigenous persons and stories about indigenous persons, giving them a book that meets them where they live.


Video: Eden Robinson discusses her latest book, Son of a Trickster, with fellow author and friend, Miriam Toews.