The Orenda Background

The Orenda Background

Joseph Boyden is a Canadian author born on October 31, 1966 in Willowdale, Ontario. After graduating from Brebeuf College School, he attended York University and the University of New Orleans to study creative writing. Afterward, he published two novels, Three Day Road and Through Black Spruce, which are both historical fiction works that tell the story of Canadian soldiers fighting in World War I. His third book, The Orenda (2013), has similar motifs of violence and bloodshed in times of war.

The Orenda takes place in early 17th century Canada and is narrated by three different characters. The perspective shifts from a Huron soldier named Bird, a Jesuit missionary named Christophe, and an Iroquois member named Snow Falls. Boyden explores the deep-rooted hatred between the Iroquois and Huron, which inevitably leads to widespread massacres and unbelievable acts of slaughter.

When it was published in 2013, The Orenda received positive reviews from critics and audiences alike. It was shortlisted for the 2013 Governor General’s Award and won the 2014 competition of Canada Reads. David Annand of The Telegraph also stated that Boyden’s novel is a “welcome addition to [his] growing oeuvre of fiction about the Canadian First Nation peoples from whom he is descended. Even-handed and morally complex, melodramatic and keenly felt, it is historical fiction at its best.”

Since 2013, Joseph Boyden has written a ballet entitled Going Home Star — Truth and Reconciliation which premiered at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in 2014.

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