The book that changed your life: Julie Flett

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      The Word Vancouver festival is set for its 2015 edition with a huge, genre-spanning program of authors, appearing at venues around town from September 23 to 27.

      The Straight asked a group of these writers to tell us about their most meaningful reading experiences. Which books shaped their imaginations early on? Which ones expanded their ideas of what the written word can do?

      Here’s what Vancouver’s Julie Flett told us. Flett is an award-winning author, illustrator, and artist of Cree, Métis ancestry. She’ll read from the latest work she's illustrated, the English-Cree children’s book Dragonfly Kites (written by Tomson Highway), at 12:10 p.m. on September 27, on the Kids’ Words stage outside the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library.

      While I’ve always been interested in trickster stories, one of the books that stood out for me as a young reader was Kōbō Abe’s Suna no onna (The Woman in the Dunes). I read it so long ago that I really had to think about why it’s the one that stands out. I think it had been such a relief to read, to be able to look at existential and psychosocial themes written in such a poetic way—especially on belonging and alienation. 

      It also strikes me to think that one of the books that had been so exemplary for me at the time is a book that has been translated. I would, of course, have loved to have read books written by Indigenous authors at that time, so many of the authors who have inspired me later in life.