The crow theory is the latest book by best-selling Canadian author David A. Robertson.
Robertson’s first adult novel is about a disconnected and distant relationship between a man named Matthew and his teenage daughter Holly. Following a tragic event, Matthew and Holly reunite and head ashore in search of a long-lost cabin on the family trapline, miles from the Cree community they once called home. them.
When things go wrong during the trip, they find they have only the other to turn to for support. What happens to father and daughter on earth will test them and eventually heal them in ways they never thought possible.
Robertson is an award-winning author and graphic novelist based in Winnipeg. Multi-talented heritage writer Swampy Cree has published 25 books in a variety of genres, including graphic novels Will I see? and sugar fallsya book foreignersthe memory black water and the Governor General’s Literary Award-winning picture books titled When we were alone and On the trapline, both illustrated by Cree-Métis artist Julie Flett.
Robertson served as a CBC Books judge for The First Page student writing challenge in 2020-21. Her mid-level book series includes The tundra and The Great Bear. The tundra was a finalist for the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Literature — Text.
He also hosts the CBC Manitoba podcast Kiwew and is one of the Indigenous creators who contributed to the graphic novel anthology This place.
Robertson told CBC Books that writing her first adult novel was a “confluence of lived experiences” that has accumulated over the past two years. This includes the experiences and events described in his memoirs black watera book that won two Manitoba Book Awards in 2021.
“When I went to the trapline with my dad in 2018, he told me about another trapline he had lived on as a child that was lost to him. father died, I imagined going with him again and taking him there to rest. It became the setting for the novel, a homecoming, both physical and spiritual,” Robertson said.
“Personally, the last two years have been a struggle from a mental health perspective. Losing my father and then going from anxiety to depression has left me in a bad state. It has affected my relationships, especially with my eldest daughter. Living with my father’s teachings, hearing his voice, thinking about our time together on earth, many things, have helped me to heal – and through that, to heal the relationship with my daughter.
“I put it all together to The crow theory. It was a way for me to keep healing, because sharing truths through history heals me.”
The crow theory will be available on September 13, 2022.
You can read an excerpt from The crow theory below.
I was eight years old when my grandmother died. She went to boarding school when she was five, until she was about the age you are now. If you think about the worst things the kids went through in those schools, you can imagine what happened to my grandmother. She went through hell, came out the other side, but the flames never really went out. Survivors talk about their experiences now, and I think it helps them, but no one was listening then, so there was no one to talk to. My grandmother died of a lung problem. I don’t know what kind, just that finally she couldn’t breathe. Maybe keeping all this truth was taking her breath away. Vacuumed it clean.
Or maybe she just died.
“Now what?” I asked my mother, lying in her bed one evening after the funeral.
“Nothing now,” she said. (Your grandfather believes in the Creator, your grandmother not so much.)
“What do you mean nothing?”
“She is dead. She will live on in our memories.”
To be remembered is not the hereafter. It’s other people using their brains to think about you.
It’s not really living. I knew it then as well as now. To be remembered is not the hereafter. It’s other people using their brains to think about you. When you die, you won’t know if anyone remembers you or not. I said something like that to her, as an eight-year-old would say, and then my mom just ignored it. She told me that my grandmother didn’t know she was alive before she was born, that she wouldn’t know she was alive after she died, and that was it. It was like that for everyone.
“Are you trying to make me feel better?”
“We all share the same fate, son. Isn’t that comforting? Isn’t it nice to know we’re all in this together?”
It’s a fucking boat, I thought.
For years after that, I would lie in bed and think about what my mom said, and it kept me up all night. I rolled out of bed and wandered around the house aimlessly. I remember one night, I found myself in front of the windows of our house, looking at the sky, the stars, the moon, then all that. I lifted my hand and looked at my palm in the soft moonlight, I looked at all the little lines covering my skin. They were as small to me as I was to the world, as the world was to the universe, as the universe was to eternity, and I felt crushed by the weight of it all.
For years after that, I would lie in bed and think about what my mom said, and it kept me up all night.
On nights like that, I snuggled into my parents’ bed. My father would be awake. I guess he’s come to expect that at some point in the night, I’ll get stuck between him and my mom. He’d put his hand on my stomach, all those little lines on his palm pressed against my skin, and told me to raise his hand, then lower it, with my breath.
I was breathing in my stomach. I watched his hand rise, then fall.
My pulse would slow. My breathing would slow. I stared at his hand until my eyelids grew heavy.
When I would open my eyes, it would be morning.
And I think about it. I think of how we sleep for a third of our lives. Life is already so short that I’m afraid that if I close my eyes, it’s too late to work things out with you. I’ve been sleeping for so long already.
Adapted from The crow theory by David A. Robertson. Copyright © 2022 David A. Robertson. Published by Harper Perennial, a division of HarperCollins Publishers. Reproduced by agreement with the publisher. All rights reserved.