Green Grass, Running Water is Thomas King's second novel. King began writing it in 1989 during a one-month writer's residency at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming. The novel was published in 1993 and received positive critical reception. It was nominated for the Governor General's Award in Fiction that same year, but did not receive the prize. The novel did win the 1993 Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction. In subsequent years, the critical acclaim continued. It was included on the Quill and Quire's list of Best Canadian Fiction of the Century and was the runner up in the 2004 CBC "Canada Reads" Contest.
While Green Grass, Running Water is a stand-alone work, characters who appear in the novel also appear in other pieces of King's fiction. Coyote, for example, appears in many of King's illustrated children's stories. Between 1997 and 2000, a radio comedy show called "The Dead Dog Café Comedy Hour" aired on CBC Radio, and this series was a kind of spin-off from Green Grass Running Water. The café was first described in King's novel, and he expanded on it in the radio show, although he created a new cast of characters associated with the café. The radio show, which was written by King and also featured him as one of the actors, shares many themes with the novel, such as political critique and the exploration of racial stereotypes.