So19 Previews: Kai Thomas's IN THE UPPER COUNTRY
reviewed Kai Thomas's excellent debut novel for Publishers Weekly, and had the additional pleasure of interviewing the author for the magazine. (Some magazine contents are behind a paywall, so you may or may not be able to visit those links.) Appearing in January 2023, In the Upper Country probes freedom, family, and the interconnections between white, Black, and Indigenous communities in 1859 Canada. It centers on the meeting between Lensinda Martin, a reporter for the Coloured Canadian newspaper who lives in the Black village of Dunmore, and an elderly woman named Cash who arrives there via the Underground Railroad. As Cash and Lensinda talk, surprising links between their lives are revealed; the women’s own stories are enriched with threads involving Cash’s Indigenous husband, Black Canadians during the War of 1812, and the American enslaved people who have settled in Dunmore among others. Definitely worth putting on your list if you, like me, love striking prose, resonant women's stories, and nuanced depictions of the 19th century experience. Coincidentally, two recent So19 interviews also deal with books involving Canada and the Civil War; click on the book titles to read my chats with Bob Kroll, the author of the novel The Punishing Journey of Arthur Delaney, and Brian Martin, whose nonfiction book is From Underground Railroad to Rebel Refuge: Canada and the Civil War.