Tomson Highway’s Laughing with the Trickster uses humor to tackle life’s big questions – read an excerpt now

Laughing with the Trickster is the latest book by artist believes Tomson Highway.

In Laughing with the Trickster, Highway explores some of the fundamental questions of human existence through the lens of indigenous mythologies, contrasted with the ideas of ancient Greece and Christianity.

Laughing with the Trickster is the book version of his 2022 CBC Massey Lecture series. Lectures will be broadcast on CBC Radio IDEAS Y CBC Listen in November.

Highway is an acclaimed Cree novelist, children’s author, playwright, and musician. His work includes classics from Canadian theatre. The Rez Sisters Y Dry lips should move to Kapuskasingthe novel The fur queen’s kiss and children’s novels caribou song, dragonfly kites Y fox on ice.

He was appointed officer of the Order of Canada in 2021 for his contribution to Canadian theater and culture and his memories Permanent Amazement won the 2021 Writers Foundation Hilary Weston Award and it is a 2022 Evergreen Award Finalist.

Laughing with the Trickster will be available on September 27, 2022.

You can read an excerpt from Laughing with the Trickster down.


about the language

Cree was the lingua franca in the Highway household when I was a boy. It was only with subsequent generations that it began to fade. The cause? Electricity and its most subversive offspring, television and, later, the Internet. The first casualty of this “offspring” was our language and indeed all the native languages ​​of this country. Television ushered in the era of its gradual erasure. The first victim of this linguistic loss? Laughter. Because if you think it’s the fastest language in the world, it’s [surely] it’s also the most fun. The reason? A clown god motorizes our indigenous languages, making them doubly spectacular, doubly happy. He certainly does with Cree. A laughing deity virtually governs the way our tongues flick, the way our blood flows, the way our lungs pump, the way our brains pop and dance and sizzle.

‘Without that language,’ the Trickster might well say, ‘laughter dies.’

Called Weesaa-geechaak in Cree, Nanabush in Ojibway, Glooscap in Mi’kmaq, Coyote in the southern interior of British Columbia, Raven on its coast, Iktomi, a half-human, half-spider being, among the Lakota and South Dakota from Manitoba. , southern Saskatchewan, and the North Dakotas of the US, that being is known in English as the Trickster. So when the generation after mine stopped speaking Cree, half their sense of humor disappeared. It was diluted with the English language. Fortunately for me, electricity didn’t come to my old Brochet hometown until the summer of 1973, when he was twenty-one, too late to lose my language, which is how and why my Cree survived unscathed.

Ooski-p’mat-sak (the new livers, that is, the next generation) were not so lucky. So they laughed with half our usual enthusiasm. They laughed, yes, once every Tuesday when the priests weren’t looking. They laughed, they laughed, they snorted, they squealed, they squawked, keegi-thagi-pathi-wak, keewee-cheegi-pathi-wak, but they laughed loudly until they farted and they didn’t. Suddenly farting was a crime, a capital offense for which one could spend a year in prison. The nerve! “Without that language,” the Trickster might very well say, “laughter dies.”

Like the song of birds, languages ​​make our planet a beautiful place, a fascinating place—indeed, a miraculous place—to live.

As for all the languages ​​of the entire world, they are so different from each other that the result, if they were all spoken at once, would be a cacophony, a ghastly rattle of misguided consonants. Still, everyone is here for a reason. Each one has its genius, its strength, its applicability. More specifically, if botanists tell us that the Amazon rainforest has plants and herbs numbering in the millions, each of which holds the key to a possible cure for physical ailments, diseases, and ailments, then languages ​​work the same way. . The difference is that the ailments they address are not so much physical as they are emotional, psychological and spiritual, ailments that can be just as debilitating, just as deadly.

Without languages ​​we would be lost, aimless, even suicidal. Life on Earth would be static; it would not make sense. Like the song of birds, languages ​​make our planet a beautiful place, a fascinating place—indeed, a miraculous place—to live.


Taken from Laughing with the Cheater: On Sex, Death, and Accordions by Tomson Highway ©2022 Tomson Highway. Published by House of Anansi Press. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.

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