In his stories and novels, W.P. Kinsella has created 2 disparate fictional universes. The first, set largely on the Hobbema Reserve in central Alberta, focuses sympathetically on the lives of Native people in their perennial skirmishes with blundering white institutions and bureaucracies. Dance Me Outside (1977) was the first of Kinsella's several story collections set in Hobbema and narrated by Silas Ermineskin. It was made into a film of the same name in 1994, directed by Bruce MCDONALD, and was the basis for the CBC television series The Rez. Later titles in Kinsella's Hobbema series include The Fencepost Chronicles, which won the 1987 Stephen Leacock Medal, Brother Frank's Gospel Hour (1994), and The Secret of the Northern Lights (1998).
Kinsella's Hobbema stories met with controversy from some critics who objected to Kinsella's appropriation of Native voice and what they saw as stereotype-based humour. Kinsella defends writers' freedom to create fiction about any subject. He states, "It's the oppressed and the oppressor that I write about. The way that oppressed people survive is by making fun of the people who oppress them. That is essentially what my Indian stories are all about."
W.P. Kinsella's second fictional landscape - which has won him an international audience - is the world of baseball, a world often leavened with a touch of the surreal, the magical or the fantastic. The compelling and imaginative novel Shoeless Joe (1982), which won both the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship and the Books in Canada Award for First Novel, is the best known of his baseball fictions. It was adapted for film as Field of Dreams (1989), which popularized the phrase, "If you build it, he will come." Among his other baseball works are The Iowa Baseball Confederacy (1985), Magic Time (1998), and Japanese Baseball and Other Stories (2000). Kinsella edited Diamonds Forever: Reflections from the Field, the Dugout & the Bleachers (1997) and co-wrote the Japanese non-fiction book Ichiro Dreams: Ichiro Suzuki and the Seattle Mariners (2002).
Although his 1997 accident had a devastating impact on his creative output, W.P. Kinsella continues to write non-fiction and to contribute to Canadian literature. From 2001 to 2006 he served as the preliminary judge of the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Contest. He has been awarded a number of honourary doctorates and is a Member of the Order of Canada and of the Order of British Columbia.
Author NEIL BESNER Rev: KAREN GRANDY
Links to Other Sites
Order of British Columbia
The official website for the Order of British Columbia. Check out the online profiles and photos of previous recipients.
B.C. writer W.P. Kinsella wins lifetime achievement award
A CBC News article about W.P. Kinsella, the author of Dance Me Outside and Shoeless Joe, receiving the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award in Vancouver.
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