Acclaimed writer Thomas King is publishing his first graphic novel.
Borders was originally a short story written in 1993. It’s about a boy and his mother who try to take a road trip from Alberta to Salt Lake City. When they reach the American Canadian border, they identify as Blackfoot, and not Canadian or American — causing problems and putting the pair in limbo between the two countries. What unfolds is a powerful story about justice, identity and belonging.
Borders was adapted into a graphic novel by Natasha Donovan. It will be published on Sept. 7, 2021.
“Natasha’s illustrations bring the story to light in a new and engaging way,” King told CBC Books via email.
King is a Canadian American writer of Cherokee and Greek ancestry who is regarded as one of the most influential Indigenous writers and scholars of his generation.
King was the first Indigenous person to deliver a CBC Massey Lecture in 2003. His bestselling books include Truth & Bright Water, The Inconvenient Indian, Green Grass, Running Water, The Back of the Turtle and the DreadfulWater mystery series. He’s also written a poetry collection, 77 Fragments of a Familiar Ruin.
Indians on Vacation is currently on the shortlist for the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour and the Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction. It was shortlisted for the 2020 Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and longlisted for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
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Donovan is a Métis illustrator originally from Vancouver. She has illustrated several graphic novels, including the Surviving the City series by Tasha Spillet and Brett Huson’s animal series, which includes The Sockeye Mother, The Grizzly Mother and The Eagle Mother. She also illustrated the cover for The Ghost Collector by Allison Mills and her work appears in the anthology This Place: 150 Years Retold.
Borders is a story she has known for a long time, and has connected to personally as her partner is American and currently trying to navigate the same system.
“I’ve been passionate about this story since I first read it in high school. It’s funny and tender, in that quintessential Thomas King way, and it gracefully balances the absurdity and the heartbreak of arbitrarily imposed divisions,” Donovan told CBC Books via email.
“While working on Borders, my American spouse and I were also getting to know the weird, frustrating world of immigration — in fact, the book is now finished, but my case is still unresolved. Working on this project in such a surprisingly relevant time was a huge privilege, and often a comfort. I have grown to love these characters immensely, and they have provided me with a lot of hope and happiness.”
You can see an excerpt from Borders below.