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Fiction

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The Red Canoe

Buck, government name Michael Fineday, Ojibwe name Miskwa’ doden (Red Deer) is on the brink of suicide. He has just been served divorce papers by his wife Naomi, who is fed up with his savior complex and the danger it often attracts to their door. Living on the border of Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community reservation, Buck makes a living as a boatbuilder and carpenter. He spends his days alone, trying to win the trust of a feral cat…until a semi-feral girl shows up, fascinated by the canoe Buck is building.

Lucy, Ojibwe name Gage’ bineh, (Everlasting Bird), lives in a trailer alone with her father, a local policeman struggling with PTSD which is compounded by the loss of Lucy’s mother. Just barely fifteen she has lived with a lifetime of abuse, while knowing that if she ever spoke out, her father would bear the consequences.

Buck senses Lucy is in trouble and doesn't hesitate to come to her defense. On the foundation of their shared Ojibwe heritage, they trace Lucy’s abuse to a ring that extends farther than either of them ever imagined, while building a bond even sturdier than Buck’s canoe.

The Devil You Know

When Max Geist plans a rugged canoe trip on the rivers of Northern Minnesota, fifteen-year-old David fears that dealing with his father--an opinionated, stubborn, novice outdoorsman--will be the roughest part of their journey. Little does he know that once he enters the unforgiving wilderness his life, and that of his family, will be irrevocably changed.

The Devil You Know combines the breathtaking intensity of a first-rate literary thriller with the complexity and poignancy of a classic coming-of-age novel. This is a spellbinding suspense novel with heart and soul, a story that will keep you riveted until the very last page.

Six Crooked Highways

 

"A...taut sequel to his thriller, "Don't Think Twice."  ...Johnson's knowledge of the Chippewa language and traditions gives the book a wonderfully unique character. ...Johnson is so comfortable with language that he almost makes it disappear.  His descriptions are so clear they are nearly transparent.  You have no trouble imagining the Northern woods, the "pines and white birch down on shore, lake after lake, each a jewel...."  It's as if you can almost remember being Chippewa, almost remember the "smell of gum pine, taste of fry bread, kick of shotgun, duck hunting.  Soft pine needles underfoot...."  "Six Crooked Highways" is a tough yet tender book.  Fans of Tony Hillerman's atmospheric novels about the Navajo tribal policemen Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee will find Wayne Johnson's moody story fascinating, a sharp glimpse into a world as mysterious as it is memorable."   -Los Angeles Times

Don't Think Twice

Deep in the north woods of Minnesota, Paul Two Persons is struggling to keep his resort lodge afloat. He has lent money to his childhood friend, Al, and needs it back fast before the bank forecloses on his business.

When Al turns up missing — and then dead of an apparent suicide — Paul is propelled into a labyrinth of intrigue that leads to some ugly discoveries. There is corruption within his own Tribal Council, developers' plans for the land that Paul has fought so hard to keep, and the "accidental death" of his eight-year-old son that now seems something more sinister.

 

"Johnson's sentences shimmer, dip, swoop, and stretch. He has a fine eye."   

-New York Times

Deluge (as Albertine Strong)​

Deluge is the story of three generations of a Native American family and the Ojibwe teachings and legends that define, animate, and give meaning to their lives. The narrator is Aja, storyteller, teacher, and survivor, whose life moves from a youth immersed in her Ojibwe heritage through her odyssey to a small Eastern college, to her journey back to her people.  
Her mesmerizing narrative weaves together mythic and present times as it brings to life not only one woman's path toward self-actualization but also the emotional complexities of several generations. 

The Snake Game

 

In the backwoods of northern Minnesota, Indians eke out a meagre living. This novel traces the childhood and early manhood of an outsider, and his relationship with the Indian community, whose society is in increasing disarray, but whose influence upon the young man's development is profound.  A provocative, potent debut.

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