Annie Muktuk and Other Stories

The stories in Norma Dunning's Annie Muktuk and Other Stories celebrate the traditions of Inuit culture and condemn attempts to eradicate, erase or ignore that culture. In "Elipsee," a husband and wife head north for the summer in search of a cure for her breast cancer. "Annie Muktuk" tells the story of two friends who fight over one's irrational love of the titular character despite her willingness to sleep with everyone. Three sisters, with the same father but different mothers, appear in "Husky" and "My Sisters and I," both of which explore the ways that traditional Inuit culture clashes with--and is repressed by--white culture.

Dunning's Inuit characters are richly imagined, living everyday lives amid racism and colonialism. Across all 16 stories, characters drink, smoke, have sex, fall in love, fight, laugh, remember, cry, work, play, eat, pray. Women (and men) reclaim power taken from them. Families find ways to stay together despite government schooling programs that take children from their homes in the name of education. Dunning's spare writing style and short sentences nevertheless convey big pictures. "Today the sky is full of geese returning from their winter home.... It is like a homecoming of people who have been lost from one another. It is today. Today is all anyone has."

Individually, the stories in Annie Muktuk are raw, darkly humorous and full of insights into a tradition many know little about. As a whole, the collection is a celebration of the Inuit as well as a searing depiction of those who would dismiss them. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

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