Book Reading with Chris Stark

Watch this WMST Online book reading and discussion with Chris Stark from March 27, 2022. In this archived video, Chris reads from her newest book Carnival Lights and talks with WMST Online about her process writing the book & giving voice to the realities of violence against Indigenous women and girls. 

Book Reading and Discussion



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

Chris Stark is a Native (Anishinaabe and Cherokee) award-winning writer, researcher, visual artist, and national and international speaker. Her first novel, Nickels: A Tale of Dissociation, was a Lambda Literary Finalist. Her essays, poems, academic writing, and creative nonfiction have appeared in numerous publications, including The Palgrave International Handbook on Trafficking, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Dignity Journal, The WIP, Florida Review, The Chalk Circle: Intercultural Prize-Winning Essays, When We Became Weavers: Queer Female Poets on the Midwest Experience, Hawk and Handsaw: The Journal of Creative Sustainability, and many others. 

Learn more about Chris and her work by visiting her website at
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