Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk: Sanaaq unikkausinnguaq (Sanaaq)


The latest addition to my website is Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk‘s Sanaaq unikkausinnguaq (Sanaaq). This is the first Inuit novel on my website and probably the first Inuit novel. It was written by a woman who had been asked to write everyday Inuit terms for a priest who was learning the language but had got bored doing that and then expanded it into a tale of an Inuit woman and those closest to her, creating a novel though she had never read a novel in her life. At the start of the novel she is a widow with a young daughter and early on firmly rejects a much older man’s proposal. She finally marries the brother of a friend of hers and their marriage generally seems to be happy, with the exception of one unpleasant incident. We follow their daily life with its everyday incidents, such as hunting and foraging, moving camp and dealing with their igloo (it always seems to be melting). They have their ups and downs – illness, deaths and other mishaps. The coming of the whites has a big influence on them, both good (medicine, Western goods) and not so good (one of the women becomes pregnant by one of them). Missionaries, of course, are very active. It is a very interesting novel, considering that its author had never read a novel.

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