Sasquatch and the Green Sash is at once a translation and adaptation of the medieval English poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, from a time when parts of English culture were closer to Old Norse roots. Novelist Keith Henderson has chosen to Canadianize the original and set it among the native Dene of the Northwest Territories' Nahanni National Park, a place with its own suggestive tradition of beheading stories. The rich alliterative language of the original has been retained and modernized. The setting has been edged further north, darker, colder, sub-arctic, with 'the ominous green and violet and pink of Aurora Borealis' and the additional dimension of the ancient Green Man's Muslim origins as Al Khidr, vizier of Alexander the Great. Together, in the lands where it's dark at mid-day, they once sought the Fountain of Youth. Here is much that is vivid, intriguing, and deeply morally satisfying: Sasquatches, beheadings, Turkish scimitars, caribou hunts, a young RCMP officer involved in illicit love affairs and mysterious ceintures flechees, all in the stunning panorama of Canada's Northwest where 'Magic ovals and circles decorate the northern land, interlink one with another; in secret hollows, nests, and caves, in birds' eggs and in the bellies of foxes, field mice, and bears, small heads grow and acquire their features, fleeting as a gust of wind.'
Keith Henderson has published five other novels with DC Books, The Restoration (1992), The Beekeeper (1990), The Roof Walkers (2013) Acqua Sacra (2016), and Sasquatch and the Green Sash (2018), political essays from when he was Quebec correspondent for the Financial Post (Staying Canadian,1997), as well as a prize-winning book of short stories (The Pagan Nuptials of Julia, 2006). He led the Equality Party during the separatist referendum of 1995, taught Canadian Literature at Vanier for many years, and is currently President of The Special Committee for Canadian Unity.
The story-telling tradition would never have become a tradition if people hadnt been willing to work on variations of what came before, and in Sasquatch and the Green Sash, Henderson takes Sir Gawain and the Green Knight further afield than most would dare. Describing his project in the acknowledgements as a hybrid thing, at once an adaptation, translation, and Canadianization, he makes good on all three claims. --Ian McGillis Montreal Review of Books, March 2019
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