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In the black hours of a wintry night Inuit hunters fight their way through a storm to the camp of the administrator of Baffin Island. Their dog sled carries a dying man who clearly terrifies them. Revived by the officer, the man, Shoona, lives long enough to tell his story.
An unwanted orphan in his youth, Shoona is taught to be a “spirit wrestler,” a shaman capable of influencing the demons and spirits that control human destiny. Revered at first for his magic, Shoona becomes a feared outcast when his enemies are overtaken by uncanny and fatal events. Then, out of pride, he steals the sacred amulets of the powerful sea goddess Sedna, and is confronted by a mysterious white man who is obsessed with Inuit lore, and who soon attracts Shoona’s wife.
Compelling in narrative, rich in character and authentic background, Spirit Wrestler is a saga of the 1950s that illuminates the striking interplay of legend and reality. Long after its startling conclusion, this tale will live on hauntingly in the memory of readers.
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“Irresistible...it eloquently conveys the hidden subtleties of an unfamiliar culture.”
–New York Times
“An absorbing novel with a timeless quality.”
James Houston, a Canadian author-artist, served with the Toronto Scottish Regiment in World War II, 1940-45, then lived among the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic for twelve years as a Northern Service Officer, and the first Administrator of west Baffin Island, a territory of 65,000 square miles. Widely acknowledged as the prime force in the development of Inuit art, he is past chairman of both the American Indian Arts Centre and the Association on American Indian and Eskimo Cultural Foundation Award, the 1979 Inuit Kuavati Award of Merit, and the 1997 Royal Geographic Society’s Massey Medal, and is an officer of the Order of Canada.
Among his writings, The White Dawn has been published in thirty-one editions worldwide. That novel and Ghost Fox, Spirit Wrestler, and Eagle Song have been selections of major book clubs. Running West won the Canadian Authors Association Book of the Year Award, while his novel, The Ice Master, also appeared in Spanish translation. Author and illustrator of seventeen children’s books, he is the only person to have won the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year Award three times. His most recent children’s book is Fire and Ice, about creating glass sculpture. He has also written screenplays for feature films, has created numerous documentaries and continues to lecture widely.
His drawings, paintings, and sculptures are internationally represented in many museums including the St. Petersburg Museum in Florida and private collections including that of the King of Saudi Arabia. He is Master Designer for Steuben Glass, with one hundred and ten pieces to his credit. He created the seventy-foot-high central sculpture in the Glenbow-Alberta Art Museum. In 1999 Canada’s National Museum of Civilization devoted its show “Iqqaipaa” to the art of the Arctic in James Houston’s time, and he played a central role in organizing the exhibition.
He and his wife Alice divided their time between a colonial privateer’s house in New England and a writing retreat on the bank of a salmon river on the Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia, where he has written a large part of his trilogy of memoirs, Confessions of an Igloo Dweller, Zigzag, and Hideaway.
James Houston passed away in 2005 at the age of 83.
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Book Description New Canadian Library, 1988. Mass Market Paperback. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0771093241