A Season in Chezgh’un
A subversive novel by acclaimed Cree author Darrel J. McLeod, infused with the contradictory triumph and pain of finding conventional success in a world that feels alien.
James, a talented and conflicted Cree man from a tiny settlement in Northern Alberta, has settled into a comfortable middle-class life in Kitsilano, a trendy neighbourhood of Vancouver. He is living the life he had once dreamed of—travel, a charming circle of sophisticated friends, a promising career and a loving relationship with a caring man—but he chafes at being assimilated into mainstream society, removed from his people and culture.
The untimely death of James’s mother, his only link to his extended family and community, propels him into a quest to reconnect with his roots. He secures a job as a principal in a remote northern Dakelh community but quickly learns that life there isn’t the fix he’d hoped it would be: His encounters with poverty, cultural disruption and abuse conjure ghosts from his past that drive him toward self-destruction. During the single year he spends in northern BC, James takes solace in the richness of the Dakelh culture—the indomitable spirit of the people, and the splendour of nature—all the while fighting to keep his dark side from destroying his life.
NXNW: A Season in Chezgh’un. Acclaimed Cree author Darrel J. McLeod joins Margaret Gallagher in the NXNW studio to talk about his debut novel.
Reviews of A Season in Chezgh’un
“MacLeod offers the reader a thought-provoking and immersive portrait of a remote Dakelh community and of James, the driven Indigiqueer educator who chooses to work there—a man who must struggle with structural injustices, conflicting demands, prejudice, and his own divided self. A deeply authentic novel, and one that is both educative and heartfelt.”
—Kathy Page, author of Alphabet and Dear Evelyn
“In A Season in Chezgh’un, Darrel J. McLeod moves confidently from the world of memoir to the new territory of the novel.”
—Michelle Good, author of Five Little Indians
“A Season in Chezgh’un is about the search for meaning and for love, about grappling with history and loss, about creating a future out of quiet daring. I love the elegance of languages and cultures intermingling in this story, Cree, Dene, Nehiyaw, French, Spanish. Beautifully crafted, this novel is alive with dialogue that takes us into the hearts of characters too often left voiceless. Let this book sweep you away.”
—Kim Echlin, author of Speak, Silence