The Back of the Turtle

Thomas King

fiction
dark reflective slow-paced

518 pages | first published 2014

This is Thomas King’s first literary novel in 15 years and follows on the success of the award-winning and bestselling The Inconvenient Indian and his beloved Green Grass, Running Water and Truth and Bright Water, both of which continue to be taught in Canadian schools and universities. Green Grass, Running Water is widely considered a contemporary Canadian classic.

In The Back of the Turtle, Gabriel returns to Smoke River, the reserve where his mother grew up and to which she returned with Gabriel’s sister. The reserve is deserted after an environmental disaster killed the population, including Gabriel’s family, and the wildlife. Gabriel, a brilliant scientist working for DowSanto, created GreenSweep, and indirectly led to the crisis. Now he has come to see the damage and to kill himself in the sea. But as he prepares to let the water take him, he sees a young girl in the waves. Plunging in, he saves her, and soon is saving others. Who are these people with their long black hair and almond eyes who have fallen from the sky?

Filled with brilliant characters, trademark wit, wordplay and a thorough knowledge of native myth and story-telling, this novel is a masterpiece by one of our most important writers.

What the community thinks

summary of 56 ratings (see reviews)

Moods

adventurous 66%
emotional 66%
hopeful 33%
reflective 33%
sad 33%
tense 33%

Pace

medium 66%
slow 33%

Plot- or character-driven?

A mix: 100%

Strong character development?

It's complicated: 100%

Loveable characters?

It's complicated: 50% | No: 50%

Diverse cast of characters?

Yes: 100%

Flaws of characters a main focus?

Yes: 100%

Average rating

4.05