Scotiabank Giller Prize Spotlight: Michelle Good

September 26, 2020

Michelle Good’s novel, Five Little Indians has been longlisted for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Michelle Good is a Cree writer and a member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. After working for Indigenous organizations for twenty-five years and advocating for residential school survivors, she obtained a law degree. She earned her MFA in creative writing at UBC while still practicing law. Her poems, short stories and essays have been published in magazines and anthologies across Canada. Michelle Good now lives in the southern Okanagan in BC.

What/who inspires you to write?

The story itself inspires me to write. All the world is a story and how we absorb that depends so much on the storyteller. It is long past due that Indigenous writers started telling the story.

Do you have a favourite passage/quote from a book?

Speaking to her dog, the character says:

“Affection,” I tell him, “is how a dog survives. Learning how to live without it is how a woman wrests her life into her own hands.”

from the novel Four Souls by the brilliant Louise Erdrich.

Where is your favourite place to write?

Any place with a view of the natural world, especially rivers.

Is there an activity you do to help inspire your writing?

Reading! There is nothing like a beautifully written book to inspire me to pick up the pen.

Do you have a tradition for every time you finish a book?


What are you reading now?

Blue Ravens, by Gerald Vizenor.

What is your favorite CanLit book?

Teenage favorites: The Diviners and A Jest of God by Margaret Laurence.
Current favorite: Sweetland by Michael Crummy

What would your job be if you weren’t an author?

Wait a minute, don’t we all have other jobs too?

What is your favourite book from childhood?

Steinbeck’s Cannery Row.

Is there a book that you find yourself reading over and over again?

Many of Louise Erdrich’s books, The Grass Dancer by Susan Powder, The Ancient Child by N. Scott Momaday. It’s like having a loving conversation with old friends.

How did you know you wanted to be an author?

Because writing was a part of my life from the time I was a child

What inspired you to write your Scotiabank Giller Prize-nominated book?

The failure of Canadian society generally to understand how the nightmares of the residential school legacy continue to ripple through the lives and communities of Indigenous people in Canada.

What do you hope readers take away from your book?

Hopefully, an impetus to learn more, to make space and to a find a deeper sense of compassion and insight.

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