Tobacco Wars by Paul Seesequasis
Published: 2010 by Quattro Books
Source : Received from publisher as part of TLC Book Tour
It shames me to say that I have not read much Native Canadian or American literature. In fact, the only book that comes to mind that I have read is On the Rez by Ian Frazier, and that is non-fiction written by an outsider. So I was looking forward to reading Tobacco Wars and hosting a stop on the TLC Book Tour, hoping to introduce myself to a new genre of writing.
Tobacco Wars is a novella with two narratives -- one of Pocahontas and her travels to London and relationship with Ben Jonson; the other an apparent Indian legend featuring a she-bear and a wolf pack. Throughout both tobacco is mentioned, but frankly I did not see this as the main focus, which is what I expected given the book's title.
Again, I'm ashamed to admit that I don't know much about the real Pocahontas so I can't say how close or divergent this story is to the truth. But it is interesting, and perhaps my own ignorance is revealed when I'm surprised at how well she is able to manage when she is in London.
The legend part of the story, however, was not my cup of tea at all. It seems to describe a creation -- of perhaps a nation, perhaps the entire world? -- but the way it is described is, well, crude and to me not pleasant to read. Tobacco is introduced and the legend moves to tell of its influence on society even in the present day. I think I understand what the author is trying to get at here -- oppression of Native populations fueled in part by the high demand for tobacco -- but I did not like the way he did it.
Perhaps when and if I read more Native North American literature I will come back to this book with a better understanding of its background.
Please make sure to visit the other stops on the tour:
Wednesday, July 13: Reading Lark
Thursday, July 14: Chaotic Compendiums
Monday, July 18: Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books
Tuesday, July 19: Jenny Loves to Read
Tuesday, July 26: Lit and Life
Wednesday, July 27: Man of La Book
Thursday, July 28: Man of La Book - author Q&A
Thursday, July 28: My Two Blessings
Tuesday, August 2: Bibliosue
Wednesday, August 3: Scandalous Women
Thursday, August 4: Life In Review