by Graham E. Fuller (grahamefuller.com), 2 April 2018
I am happy to announce to interested readers the publication of my new novel, BEAR.
Some may recall from my blog a few years back the publication of my first novel: “Breaking Faith: a novel of espionage and an American’s crisis of conscience in Pakistan”. I have long felt that fiction can often dig deeper into political and social issues than can standard non-fiction writing, since fiction lends it greater immediacy and human, emotional impact in a way non-fiction does less well.
BEAR is a very different novel than “Breaking Faith.” It is set in British Columbia, Canada and takes a look at a environmental issues of the BC coast today that include the highly emotional and controversial efforts to construct massive pipelines across sensitive BC environmental territory to carry the world’s dirtiest oil to the Pacific Coast from the tar sands of Alberta. Equally seriously the pipeline company Kinder Morgan is planning to ship oil via supertanker from northern BC ports down through some of the most treacherous waters of the world, and especially through the Great Bear Rainforest, often referred to as the “Galapagos of the North.”
BEAR is subtitled “A novel of the Great Bear Rainforest and Eco-violence.”
Here’s a precis:
Bjorn is child of First Nations origin adopted into a white family. In his later youth he begins a search for his roots and travels to Bella Bella on the northern coast of British Columbia in pursuit of his origins. While there he gradually grows more radicalized as he learns of First Nations ordeals at the hands of government policies. He also grows convinced that he possesses special ability to understand the thinking of bears who come to represent to him the ancient wisdom of preserving the environment. Topping his concerns is the Great Bear Rainforest that is increasingly threatened by petroleum pipelines from the Alberta tar sands and by, corporate plans to ship this viscous oil in supertankers through the treacherous waters of the Rainforest preserve. As Bjorn grows more radicalized he comes to develop a relationship with the Chief Operating Officer of the pipeline and tanker corporation who himself aspires to maintain green values even in the oil business. Bjorn is torn about how to use his possible influence with the COO in a psychological game that ends in tragedy. The novel is steeped in First Nations lore, the mythical relevance of ancient bear worship in Russia, the cultural significance of the Bering land bridge from Siberia to North America, and a growing, even cosmic vision of the place of bears in the world. A riveting tale of identity, environment, bears, First Nations lore, and environmental violence.
The action of the novel unwinds primarily in British Columbia, although a few scenes include environmental and Native American radical movements such as the American Indian Movement and the Animal Liberation Front. The themes of the novel are by no means unique to Canada; they are fully relevant to most current environmental activism and confrontation taking place in the US as well, most recently involving Native Peoples in the Pacific Northwest and the violent showdown over the past two years at Standing Rock in North Dakota. Here Native Americans struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline, also shipping tar sands oil via pipelines moving south through North Dakota and on down into Texas. The parallels between Canadian resistance and the US environmental resistance movements are striking; environmentalists on both sides of the border have worked in tandem to stop this further proliferation of dirty oil and the spills already taking place around it. Indeed states south of North Dakota such as Nebraska have been engaged in a struggle against the pipeline in an age when we should be phasing out such polluting fossil fuels.
The themes of BEAR go beyond mere concern for the environment but invoke the universal image of bears as symbol of ancient folk wisdom and justice, as well as justice delivered, not just in Canada, but also across Russia.
I believe this is a quite timely novel during these years in which the struggle for the environment, and continuing eco-violence, are still potent themes of contention and activism in the daily press.
The leadership of Canadian First Nations and Native Americans are increasingly spearheading such movements with a deep cultural sense of protecting the environment.
BEAR is available on Amazon and Kindle.
Graham E. Fuller is a former senior CIA official, author of numerous books on the Muslim World; his latest book is “Breaking Faith: A novel of espionage and an American’s crisis of conscience in Pakistan.” (Amazon, Kindle) grahamefuller.com