Carnival Lights (Hardcover)
Minnesota Book Awards 2022 -- Finalist in Novel & Short Story
"Fluid in time and place, Carnival Lights flows between one past and another, offering a heartbreaking portrait of multigenerational trauma in the lives of one Ojibwe family. This tapestry of stories is beautifully woven and gut-wrenching in its effect. Read it, and it may change you forever." -- William Kent Krueger, New York Times Bestselling Author
Blending fiction and fact, Carnival Lights ranges from reverie to nightmare and back again in a lyrical yet unflinching story of an Ojibwe family's struggle to hold onto their land, their culture, and each other. Carnival Lights is a timely book for a country in need of deep healing.
In August 1969, two teenage Ojibwe cousins, Sher and Kris, leave their northern Minnesota reservation for the lights of Minneapolis. The girls arrive in the city with only $12, their grandfather's WWII pack, two stainless steel cups, some face makeup, gum, and a lighter. But it's the ancestral connections they are also carrying - to the land and trees, to their family and culture, to love and loss - that shape their journey most. As they search for work, they cross paths with a gay Jewish boy, homeless white and Indian women, and men on the prowl for runaways. Making their way to the Minnesota State Fair, the Indian girls try to escape a fate set in motion centuries earlier.
Set in a summer of hippie Vietnam War protests and the moon landing, Carnival Lights also spans settler arrival in the 1800s, the creation of the reservation system, and decades of cultural suppression, connecting everything from lumber barons' mansions to Nazi V-2 rockets to smuggler's tunnels in creating a narrative history of Minnesota.
"Chris Stark's newest novel explores the evolution of violence experienced by Native women. Simultaneously graphic and gentle, Carnival Lights takes the reader on a daunting journey through generations of trauma, crafting characters that are both vulnerable and resilient." -- Sarah Deer, (Mvskoke), Distinguished Professor, University of Kansas, MacArthur Genius Award Recipient
"Carnival Lights is a heartbreaking wonder of gorgeous prose and urgent story. It propels the reader at a breathless pace as history crashes down on the readers as much as it does on the book's vivid characters. The author's brilliant heart restores their dignity and via the realm of imagination, brings them home." -- Mona Susan Power, author of The Grass Dancer, a PEN/Hemingway Winner
"Carnival Lights is a heavy book, discussing Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW), sexual assault, sex trafficking and incest, boarding schools, Nazis in the US, as well as the history of native people in this country since it was colonized by Europeans (or English, as the elders call them). I think it should be taught in high schools." -- Esty Dinur, journalist and host of A Public Affair, Fridays on WORT-FM, Wisconsin
Learn more at www.ChristineStark.com
From Modern History Press