The Strangers, a breathtaking companion to Vermette's bestselling debut The Break, is a searing exploration of race, class, inherited trauma, and matrilineal bonds that--despite everything--refuse to be broken. Cedar, Phoenix, and Elsie--these are the strangers, each haunted in her own way. Cedar grapples with the pain of being separated from her mother, Elsie, and her sister, Phoenix. From a youth detention center, Phoenix gives birth to a baby she'll never get to raise. And Elsie, struggling with addiction and determined to turn her life around, is buoyed by the idea of being reunited with her daughters and striving to be someone they can depend on, unlike her own distant mother. Between flickering moments of warmth and support, the women diverge and reconnect, fighting to survive in a fractured system that pretends to offer success but expects them to fail. Facing the distinct blade of racism from those they trusted most, they urge one another to move through the darkness, all the while wondering if they'll ever emerge safely on the other side.
"The Strangers is a unique and essential triumph of a novel. It is revelatory in its artistry--in its constellating of family against violent separation, in its austere poetics of voice and consciousness. Katherena Vermette has proven once again that she is among the most gifted and relevant writers of our time: someone with everything to teach us about the telling of necessary stories, about grieving the fallen, honouring survival, and revealing the fiercest beauty."--David Chariandy, author of I've Been Meaning to Tell You: A Letter to My Daughter
"Katherena Vermette's The Strangers is a deeply moving story of how colonial institutions continue to bear down on and disrupt the lives of Indigenous women and girls. It is a powerful collective portrait of struggle and resistance, of what it's like to be in an Indigenous body in twenty-first century Canada. In the end, it adds up to an engrossingly written ode to another kind of care, one against the grain of suffering. A brilliant follow-up!"--Billy-Ray Belcourt, author of A History of My Brief Body
"Reminiscent of the hardscrabble tales of the Métis in the Road Allowance days, Vermette offers up a beautiful, raw testament to those living on the margins. Brilliantly weaving the lives of the [the characters] into stories within stories within stories, Vermette's confident, understated prose walks the reader through the unforgiving reality of the descendants of those who stood with Riel and Dumont, grasping for survival in a world committed to a long-established campaign of dispossession. Cathartic and disturbing, The Strangers offers vital insight into the colonial brutality that still haunts the lives of the Métis."--2021 Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize Jury (Rebecca Fisseha, Michelle Good, and Steven Price)