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Kaitlyn Purcell

104 pages
Holographic foil on front/back cover
Cover art: Lorrie Dawn Purcell
Editor: A Light Zachary
ISBN 9781988355184
Fall 2019

The whole world sits in the sky and the world is ending. Pink clouds swirl into funnels. Twirling pink fingers try to reach the earth.

In Edmonton, Ronnie learns what it is to be a young Indigenous woman, almost-alone in the city; unable to hear herself over its noise, see through the glare of its lights to find the ground beneath her feet. Stories of addiction, self-discovery, and the love of a good friend come together to form ʔbédayine, Kaitlyn Purcell’s breathtaking debut.


“This book took my breath away.”
Anne Boyer, author of The Undying, winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize

“We bear witness here to the rising song of Kaitlyn Purcell’s poetics in the guise of ʔbédayine and come to know at once a new voice to be  welcomed into the circle within Indigenous literatures. At once a collective that details ecological destruction, addiction, the grit of the inner-city, the dim lights of an Edmonton bus, and a hauntingly detailed relationship, Purcell’s writing is rich, complex, and yet wholly invitational. From Fort Smith to Edmonton, the narrator of ʔbédayine shreds through memories like the tornado that haunts her dreamscapes from sexual assaults into blissful queer embraces. We ghost through the “phantom[s] of her words” into a razed field, a “famine for wildflowers,” to the Rockies which become “tombstones of [the] Earth” all the while we are constantly asked to query why the world is always ending within and without the body of an Indigenous female narrator coming undone. An absolute must read!”
Joshua Whitehead, author of Making Love With the Land and Jonny Appleseed

“Fall into these fractured pages; there is a lot of getting back up with a vengeance in here! These young women are my new heroes, navigating the world with a grace they define. Kaitlyn Purcell’s extraordinary book has such clarity for the blurriness, for the framing of shame, and for the beauty of friends who always have your back. I absolutely love this book!”
— CAConrad, author of While Standing in Line for Death

“This is such an incredible, difficult, necessary, and haunting book.”
— Jordan Abel, author of Injun, winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize

“The intensity of A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing mixed with Otessa Moshfegh.”
— John Stintzi, author of Vanishing Monuments

“You don’t just read this book, you experience it. One of the best books of 2019.”
— Erin Emily Ann Vance 

“Poetic and sensual, beautiful and heartbreaking.”
— Reimer Reads



Reading + Teaching Guide

Espace de la Diversité – EDLD

Awards and Accolades

Penguin Random House Canada – Carving Space: The Indigenous Voices Awards Anthology (2023) – Anthologized

Indigenous Voices Award (2020) – Best Fiction – Shortlisted

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly – Sensations through time: The Indigenous Literatures Book Club reads ʔbédayine by Kaitlyn Purcell

The Metatron Prize for Rising Authors (2019) – Fiction – Winner



Discorder Mag – “Purcell’s [writing] is full of images that hit like concrete.”

Reading in Bed – “It hit me in a way I didn’t expect. At times reading like a poem, at times like a novel(la) in stories, ʔbédayine is beguiling in its simplicity but not simple at all. I can’t really explain how she does it: with something like the rawness and vulnerability of Evelyn Lau’s Runaway, and the beauty and wisdom of Tracey Lindburg’s Birdie, but also something new and her own.”

Calgary Herald – Calgary Bestsellers – “Richly complex poetry of indigeneity, ecological destruction, self-discovery, and overcoming trauma.”

Montreal Review of Books – “A genre-bending novella in stories and poems, Kaitlyn Purcell’s debut makes visible the harrowing realities of which most Canadians are aware, but about which we rarely read in the first person.”

The /tƐmz/ Review – “ʔbédayine is a distinctive achievement, both in terms of language and themes. It proposes a unique vision that questions identities and challenges social conventions that respond neither adequately nor effectively to people’s needs, marginalising minority groups and vulnerable people. Its strength is in the poetic quality of the narration and in its innovative imagery, which convey an enthralling, touching message with honesty and sensitivity.”

Edmonton Journal – Ten of the year’s best books by local authors to look out for

The Anti-Languorous Project

Indie Book Review Podcast

Kaitlyn Purcell

Kaitlyn Purcell is a Denesuline (Smith’s Landing First Nation) writer/artist and member of the Writing Revolution in Place creative research collective (University of Alberta). Currently, she is an English PhD student within creative and critical Indigenous studies at the University of Calgary. Her research centers arts and literature as theoretical practice exploring gender/sexuality and multi-modal creative productions (creative writing, visual, digital, and installation arts) as praxis towards healing and resistance. Her debut novella, ʔbédayine, was selected by guest judges CA Conrad and Anne Boyer as the winner of the 2018 Metatron Prize for Emerging Authors and was published Fall 2019.