Governor General’s Literary Awards

Book cover for Tainna: The Unseen Ones, by Norma Dunning

Tainna: The Unseen Ones

by Norma Dunning

Douglas & McIntyre

Tainna: The Unseen Ones is an explosive force of sadness, anger, humour and beauty, full of moments that surprise and pummel and still provide hope. This collection is both vivid and raw but infused with a sparkling poetry and the wisdom of the old ways. Like the spirits Norma Dunning describes in these stunning and original stories, this is a book that will never leave you.”

—Peer assessment committee: Kristen den Hartog, Chris Eaton and Suzette Mayr

Synopsis

In Tainna—meaning “the unseen ones” and pronounced Da-e-nn-a—modern-day Inuk characters must rely on their wits, artistic talent, senses of humour and spirituality for survival. Whether they are homeless or extravagantly wealthy, young or elderly, or even alive or deceased, they are united by shared feelings of alienation, displacement and loneliness. But they are also tied together by the solace they find in the shining moments of connection with their families and communities.

In the first story, a fraught reunion between sisters Sila and Amak ends in an uneasy understanding. In another, a priest eats a Filet-O-Fish at McDonald’s with a man who has been dead for years. And in the title story, broken-hearted Bunny wanders onto a golf course on a freezing night and a flock of geese stand vigil until her body is discovered by a kind stranger.

Norma Dunning’s masterful storytelling uses astute detail to incite compelling characters who meet the prejudice, misogyny and inequity of the Canadian South with humour and tenacity.

Picture of Norma Dunning

Biography

Dr. Norma Dunning is a writer as well as a scholar, researcher, professor and grandmother. Her first book, the short story collection, Annie Muktuk and Other Stories (University of Alberta Press, 2017), received the Danuta Gleed Literary Award, the Howard O’Hagan Award for Short Story and the Bronze for short stories in the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards. She is also the author of Eskimo Pie (Bookland Press, 2020), a collection of poetry and an Alberta bestseller. Norma Dunning lives in Edmonton, Alberta.

Photo: Emily Welz Studio

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