The author of Three Day Road, Joseph Boyden, teaches writing at the University of New Orleans, where my brother is also on the faculty. Boyden's Canadian heritage comes through dramatically in this first novel as does his knowledge of World War I trench warfare, acquired through research and his grandfather's first hand accounts of battle. Three Day Road braids the stories of Native Canadian friends, Xavier Bird and Elijah Wiskeyjack, who enlist in the Canadian Army and become snipers on the western front, and an elder aunt, Niska, who retrieves her broken nephew at war's end. The journey by canoe to their northern wilderness village, Moose Factory, is the metaphorical three day road of the title. As the canoe glides through calm waters, Xavier and Niska, a prophetic Cree healer, share their wrenching stories in alternating voices and in stark contrast to the peaceful surroundings. This book brought to mind other favorite novels of war, All Quiet on the Western Front, Johnny Got His Gun, The Things They Carried, The Captain, and Beach Red. The weaving of rich Native cultural traditions into stark scenes of battle, however, offers a fresh telling of timeless tales. Three Day Road won the Books in Canada First Novel Award in 2005 and was a selection of the Today Show Book Club the same year. In 2006, it was shortlisted for Canada Reads, a unique literary competition sponsored by the CBC.
Three Day Road