In the Upper Country is not only fiction alive with history; it is historic. This masterful novel is the first to narrate the forging of the Afro-Métis - or Black & Indigenous - people out of European (or Indigenous) enslavement . . . practically every page turns up a sentence or a phrase that could have been penned by Toni Morrison or James Baldwin
A sweeping epic that imagines all the ways our ancestors tried to get free. This is an exciting voice in fiction, as interested in the complexities of land and belonging as in the vagaries of human love and connection
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
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's imaginative power; sure-handed, often lyrical prose; and strong, complex, resilient women. An exceptional work that mines a rich historical vein
Tremendous . . . 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
Mesmerizing . . . at once intimate and majestic, Thomas's ambitious work heralds a bright new voice
The old woman will tell her story, if Lensinda shares one of her own. Thus begins an incredible exchange that reveals an interconnected history of love and survival for the Black and Indigenous peoples of North America.
A Gothic-tinged puzzle box of a novel . . . there's undeniable force to the embedded stories and the historical truths they bring to vivid life
Groundbreaking . . . This fascinating series of stories within stories reflects the fragmentary history of African and Indigenous people experiencing the effects of enslavement. Engrossing and intensely readable, this book represents just the beginning of a larger narrative, with many chapters yet to be told; very highly recommended
Exceptional . . . Kai Thomas deftly and compassionately braids deeply engrossing stories within stories that explore a little-known aspect of Canadian history. In the Upper Country is a mesmerizing, lyrical testament to the power of storytelling, as this is among the protagonists' tools for survival in a harsh reality rife with violence and dehumanization.