I grew up in the Alaskan Arctic in a cross-cultural family blending ancient and new traditions, and as an ecologist I studied the effects of oil spills on northern salt marshes.
Flight of the Goose - set in a fictional Inupiat village in 1971 - was inspired by my life experience and extensive research. The framing story is the relationship that connects a young female shaman, a traditional hunter and a draft-dodging ecologist.
Flight of the Goose is shelved in stores under literary fiction, Alaskana, multicultural fiction, spiritual literature, eco-fiction, and cli-fi (climate change fiction).
Look for my short stories with circumpolar themes in The Northern Review Nov '09 and Cold Flashes (University of Alaska Press, 2010).
Scroll down for news and events
Flight of the Goose: A Story of the Far North ISBN 0967884217, Far Eastern Press Paperback, 432 pp.
FIRST PLACE WINNER of the National Federation of Press Women Communications Award
FIRST PLACE WINNER of the Washington Press Association Communicator of Excellence in Fiction Award
FIRST PLACE WINNER of Alaska Press Women Communications Award
Finalist for the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award
Flight of the Goose has been studied at Boston University (theology), University of Alaska, University of Washington, North Slope School District, Sterling College in Vermont, Washington State high schools (ecology), and by students of Sandra Ingerman and book clubs the world over.
I was faculty at Kachemak Bay Writers Conference 2007
Flight of the Goose is recommended by 2012 Inuit Studies Conference; shamanic teacher Sandra Ingerman; Alaska Gray Lines (listed in "Top 17 Books set in Alaska"; Cli-Fi Books; John Marshall, book critic for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer; First Alaskans Magazine; Die Presse newspaper of Austria; Endicott Studio of Mythic Arts; Sacred Hoop Magazine; Shaman's Drum Journal; Women's Fiction Book blog ;New Connexion Magazine; Bookslut; Die Presse of Austria, arctic ecologists, birders, book clubs and literary critics
Listed as a source or publication of note in Historical Dictionary of the Inuit 2nd Ed. 2013, and Daily Life of the Inuitby Pamela Stern, 2010;Cultural Survival Quarterly; Feminist Studies Journal and Collapsenet
Go to raves from top Amazon reviewers
Sold in June '08 at the University of Washington's Burke Museum in conjunction with "The Last Polar Bear: Facing the Truth of a Warming World"
The event at U of Alaska bookstore
a mention by author Melinda Moustakis
on the syllabus at Boston University, Theology Dept.
and inAuthors Den
a recommendation by Terri Windling at The Endicott Studio of Mythic Arts
a review in ornithologist blog
Alaska Public Radio interview
review in Curled Up With A Good Book
review in Bookslut
review in Front Street Reviews
review in Compulsive Reader
review in BookLoons
review in Armchair Interviews
review by Joanna Harcourt Smith, editor of futureprimitive.org
review in Pele Publications
review in BookBuffet
a blogger's review in PussReboots
My short story of Arctic teens "End Times For Ruby" in Northern Review Journal
Look for upcoming review of Flight of the Goose in Baiki, The International Sami Journal
Calendar of author events below
FLIGHT OF THE GOOSE
climate change, cultural conflict, , scientists, shamans, birds, Big Oil, war, love and other matters of the Far North
award-winning arctic novel
Inupiaq elder and author Fred Bigjim describes it as “a novel about triumph over despair, maturity gained through pain, forgiveness, reconciliation and restoration. …Thomas's characters seem drawn from life, believable, memorable, tragic and hopeful...Flight of the Goose is a remarkable achievement.”
"(An) exquisite example of storytelling...(with) a sense of Alaska
Native culture and tradition...A well-written page-turner that will warm your
~First Alaskans: a statewide magazine of Native business and
A wonderful tale." ~Randall Howell, editor of Arctic Sounder
From arctic anthropologist Dorothy Jean Ray, author of A Legacy of Arctic Art and The Eskimos of Bering Strait 1650-1898):
"Memorable...One of the best novels of Alaska I have read...a love story of the Earth and of a village struggling to accept the changes of the new economy, subsistence pursuits, spirituality, and the environment of the 1970s. This may be about a fictitious village, but with the author's unerring knowledge of anthropology and social and environmental issues, it could fit any rural Alaskan village."
"The story took my breath away...I wept my way through it, identifying
profoundly with both protagonists. The author has a fine grasp of the complexity of human relations and
culture in such a village."
~Dr. Jean L. Briggs, Never In Anger and Inuit
"A truly glorious manifesto...An amazing understanding...When the
stories of the ancestors begin, we sit quiet, forego comfort for as long as we
must to learn something powerful, and yet, love every moment of it. This
is one of those stories. It is difficult to be an ambassador, especially between
two unbelievably different worlds. However, Thomas seems to be the perfect
~Jack Dalton, Alaska Native storyteller,writer and teacher
"Provocative...reminds me of growing up in the 1950s and '60s in the
~John Active, Yup'ik, Tundra Drums
"Flight of the Goose...is another fine example (of
nature/environmental writing in Alaska fiction)."
~Nancy Lord, Alaska’s
writer laureate; author of Beluga Days and Rock, Water, Wild
"Flight of the Goose puts a human face on the much debated issue of oil drilling in Alaska's wilderness. Should be required reading by Congress." ~Heather Lende, If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name
Whoever wants to get closer to the present (of Alaska) without having to meet Sarah Palin should consider Flight of the Goose by Lesley Thomas." ~Die Presse newspaper, Austria
1971, the Alaskan Arctic. Kayuqtuq, "the red fox", an orphan
traumatized by her past, seeks respect in her traditional Inupiat village
through the outlawed path of shamanism. Outsider scientist Leif has come to research the effects of oil
spills on salt marshes - and evade the draft. Told from Kayuqtuq's and Leif's
perspectives, Flight of the Goose is a tale of cultural conflict,
spiritual awakening, redemption and love in a time when things were, to use the
phrase of an old arctic shaman, "no longer familiar".
Roberta Louis of Shaman's Drum Journal:
"Although I have chosen to focus largely on shamanic themes...the story
addresses many other significant issues as well - among them, climate change,
environmental crisis, and indigenous rights. Incorporating themes from both
Western science and indigenous mythology, it explores our ability as human
beings to overcome cultural differences and form meaningful relationships - and
it does so with both artistry and insight. Thomas has created a moving and
extremely well-written story that, although set in the Arctic almost forty
years ago, can help us learn to live more fully human lives today."
"Lesley Thomas writes about love and loss in a fictional Inupiat Village in Alaska in the 1970s..where the subsistence lifestyle is threatened by outsiders. Alaska is often called “the last frontier” and Thomas challenges this misnomer by writing about characters and a culture who have long settled in the Alaskan wilderness. (Thomas) proves Alaskan fiction is so much more than Jack London’s version of the state." ~Melinda Moustakis, Bear Down, Bear North
"A beautiful and compelling story of Arctic Alaska on the edge of the cultural and environmental upheaval...cuts through sentimental notions of Native culture and Arctic wilderness with a clear and powerful honesty. An extraordinary weave of the complexities of culture, environment, family, and - finally - love." ~Marybeth Holleman, "The Heart of the Sound: An Alaskan Paradise Found and Nearly Lost
The theme of star-crossed lovers is as old and universal as any in the
world's storytelling traditions. Thomas conjures up a startling new variation in
her impressive debut novel."
~Fairbanks Daily Newsminer
"Over the years I have been highly recommending Flight of the Goose. It is such a great read. Although the book is fiction it has some important cultural, shamanic, and environmental themes running throughout. Lesley is an incredible writer. I am not an easy reader to please and I could not put the book down."~ Sandra Ingerman, shamanic teacher
"Explores themes of myth, cultural conflict, environmentalism, and
spirituality against the spectacular backdrop of the Arctic tundra.
~Terri Windling, Endicott Studio for Mythic Arts
"Thomas is fascinated by the forces unleashed when different cultures
rub up against each other..."
~Anne Hanley, Anchorage Daily News
"Alaskan fiction has been emerging with writers such as David Vann and also Seth Kantner, Nancy Lord, Lesley Thomas and others." ~ Flannery O'Connor Short Fiction Award Melinda Moustakis, author of Bear Down, Bear North
"Thomas applies her extensive knowledge of the culture, use of
language, shamanism and way of life of the Inupiat people. The ecological
destruction wrought by hunting and mining in the Alaskan system is a focal
point. How two people from different cultures find love brings balance to the
story...that will enlighten you to way-up North Country." ~Bookbuffet
"A remarkable achievement...Flight of the Goose is a novel
about loss and loneliness, alienation and fear, acceptance and forgiveness, the
natural and supernatural. Its memorable characters, believable setting, and
complex treatment of problems that face us all in a world of unavoidable change
and contact...will haunt the reader long after the covers have been closed."
~Fred Bigjim, Inupiaq author of Plants: A Novel, and Echoes from
"This is an absolutely gripping tale - actually a skillful braiding of
tales. I was moved by the characters and their fates as I have not been by a
novel in a long time. The telling is masterful, the authenticity palpable, and
the writing – its pace, color, tone - is exquisite. A remarkable work...a joy, a
big broad deep river of a book, a work of substance and great beauty of both
vision and style."
~Alaska Press Women Contest judge Richard Hoffman,
award-winning author of memoir Half the House
"A wonderful tale." ~Randall Howell, editor of Arctic Sounder
"I just read the last words in the book; I was crying but could read through
the tears. I will be 64 in January and this is the most honest, poignant and
beautiful book I have ever read." ~Joanna Harcourt Smith,
Flight of the Goose, as listed with The Kids from Nowhere by
"Two (books) stand out this year as exquisite examples of
storytelling. Both focus on rural Alaska. Both focus share
deeply some critical aspects of Alaska Native life…Both are authored by gifted
writers who have a sense of Alaska Native culture and tradition…Both are
well-written page-turners that will warm your heart and the hearts of those with
whom you share the stories this winter."
~First Alaskans: a statewide
magazine of Native business and culture
"Unique and beautiful...an absolutely splendid book. It is a great
pleasure for me to "go" to places such as Flight of the Goose describes,
and to "live" for a time in those environments. Thomas knows her subject very
well, and describes it very well, and writes very well, and when this is all put
together the results are superb."
~Elizabeth Marshall Thomas,(no relation to
Lesley)author of The Old Way: A Story of the First People, and
"A dreamlike flow of images and language, impeccably crafted and
deeply rooted in an authentic sense of place...Thomas' first novel brims with
~Nick Jans, The Grizzly Maze and The Last Light
"Lucid and complex...enormously compelling (and) offers numerous
avenues for theological reflections."
~Wesley Wildman, professor of theology
at Boston U and author of Lost in the Middle? Claiming an Inclusive Faith
"Thomas has done what would seem to be the impossible ~ taken us deep
inside the Inupiat world, in the voice and mind of an extraordinary young woman
with still more extraordinary powers. I know of no book like this. You'll be
stunned by the depth and scope of this novel and the unique and unmistakably
true voice of its heroine."
~Lesley Hazleton, author of Jezebel: The
Untold Story of the Bible's Harlot Queen
"It should be required reading by Congress...Complex, thought
provoking and moving...Flight of the Goose puts a human face on the much
debated issue of oil drilling in the Alaskan wilderness...A must read for anyone
that wants to learn more about Alaska than is in the headlines."
Lende, If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name
"What an extraordinary novel...(Thomas) deals with the shamanism and
sorcery in a very realistic way..."
~Sacred Hoop Magazine
"Powerful...This book deserves the marketing and promotion that are
too often wasted on inferior titles."
~National Federation of Press Women
Communications Contest judge
"A beautiful and compelling story of Arctic Alaska on the edge of
cultural and environmental upheaval...cuts through sentimental notions of Native
culture and arctic wilderness with a clear and powerful honesty. An
extraordinary weave of the complexities of culture, environment, family, and -
finally - love."
~Marybeth Holleman, The Heart of the Sound
"A deep rich novel that will leave readers eager for more of the truth
about the 49th state.Flight of the Goose is a heartbreaker, but only in
that special sort of way that makes you grateful for the hurt."
"Moving and revelatory...This is a story we must all know before we
make any decisions about the Arctic that will forever haunt future generations."
~Brenda Peterson, Build Me an Ark and Living By Water
"Unforgettable...rings as true as bell metal. Gretchen is one of the
strongest, most authentic characters I have had the pleasure of encountering in
a long time. Thomas tackles some very big stuff—anthropology, myth, gender,
science, institutionalized religion, the spirit world, ecology, colonialism, and
more—and not only never falsifies but manages to bring them all into a fruitful
relationship with each other.(She) has my admiration."
award-winning author of The Historian and Beasts in Their Wisdom
"Thomas is a brilliant writer. She weaves together a love story, a
story about life in an Alaskan village, shamanism, spiritual awakening and deep
ecology. I am recommending this book to everyone I know."
Soul Retrieval and Medicine For the Earth
"Remarkable...Beautifully written, original and fascinating...I pray
there will be other novels bearing Thomas' byline."
~John deYonge, former
editor of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
in content and emotional satisfaction..."
~Curled Up with A Good
"Stunning...so powerful it pulls you in and won't let you go."
"A wonderfully written, engaging story...the author brought real world
issues into a novel, which really brought the characters to life."
"Memorable and highly recommended (5 stars). A sophisticated story
enriched by an impressive personal background...infuses realism and accurate
detail into this work."
~Midwest Book Review
"Flight of the Goose soars beyond the physical realm to touch
the spiritual...Eloquent writing, vivid descriptions and a plot pulsing with
~In the Library Reviews
"Thomas creates a vivid arctic landscape, and explores the equally
real psychic terrain that is connected to it. This powerfully written love story
draws forth the spirit of the north like the sun pulls vapor from the ice,
arousing a new understanding of what it means to be human."
environmental editor of Truthout and author of Primal Tears
"Intimate knowledge...a compelling portrait..." ~Bellingham
"A haunting atmospheric tale...this truly amazing first novel has won
well deserved praise. The author's own multi-ethnic heritage and youth spent in
an Alaskan village gives the rich details depth and believability."
Connexion, a Journal of Conscious Living
"Beautifully written, ethereal novel...masterful evocation...elevated
psychological fiction(full of) nuance and complexity of the kind made famous by
Book Room Reviews
"A truly beautiful literary achievement...Engrossing...Global warming
and its tragic effects on the Far North have been on our minds these days,and
Flight of the Goose is a great way to expand our knowledge of that remote
~Pacific Vision, Women's International League For Peace and
"Not just another ANWR book, Thomas takes on the
spiritual and mystical aspects of the Arctic." ~Seattle Weekly
"Unforgettable...Beautiful writing, marvelous story, engaging
"Heartrending...vivid...timely...This story of star-crossed lovers
probes the most burning issues of our day: the rights of women…war versus peace;
magic versus science; oil company greed versus the traditional — and sustainable
— society of the Alaska native peoples."
~People’s Weekly World
"Step into another world with this wonderful book... With rich,
illuminating prose...Thomas takes us on a unique journey to find what we all
seek: human compassion, trust, a sense of belonging, and of course, love."
"Excellent read (5 starred). Thomas brings her first-hand knowledge of
growing up in the Arctic forward into a haunting story…I quickly devoured (this)
fantastically told tale."
"At heart a love story...also a remarkable depiction of village life
in the High Arctic at a time both near and far from our own." ~Recommended by
Toyon Books, Healdsburg, CA
"...Should be of interest to birders and naturalists because of the
central role that birds and other wildlife play in the everyday lives of the
people portrayed...An honest and vivid portrayal...If you want to get a glimpse
of what Alaska is really all about, pick up a copy of Flight of the Goose
and set aside some quiet time to allow yourself to be absorbed into the
entrancing blend of mysticism and realism that characterizes Thomas’s
~ John Trapp, wildlife biologist and author of Birds Etcetera,
a birding blog
"Extraordinary..." ~University of Alaska Anchorage Bookstore
"Flight of The Goose challenged my world view and opened my
heart. (It) welcomes the reader through a mysterious door into the old ways of a
village that no longer exists in modern times. For a few days I lived with Leif
and Kayuqtuq, “the red fox”. My world disappeared and the arctic village life
became more real to me than my own life. This to me is the essence of a great
novel, for the reader to live with the story as if it were her own." ~Joanna
Harcourt-Smith, editor of futureprimitive.org
"Thomas masterfully braids two voices from vastly different cultures
in a tale of loss and love. Her sensitivity to traditional knowledge and ways of
knowing shines through her language and craft. Flight of the Goose is a
wonderful tribute to the Alaskan Arctic.” On my short story, writes Nancy
Lord: "I have favorites among the fiction (of the Northern Review fall
2009)...I was especially wowed by Thomas’ "End Times for Ruby," which captures
the lives of girls in village Alaska, with all their imagined possibilities
'until you actually graduated'."
~Leslie Hsu Oh, Creative Writing
Instructor, University of Alaska Anchorage
~Nancy Lord, Alaska’s writer laureate and
author of Beluga Days and Rock, Water, Wild
"Wonderful, authentic, lyrical and rich. Thomas brought the landscape
alive. My copy is well loved and dog-eared." ~Vivian Faith Prescott, author of
The Hide of My Tongue "My chest clutched on the last two pages. It took my breath away. This book should be out in front of every book store; every library should push it; the world should know about it and Lesley Thomas. I was blown away." ~ Jim Misko, Alaskan author
"I recommend a wonderful first novel: Flight of the Goose. Though I thought I knew all about this problem, I was stunned by how global warming is changing and harming Arctic communities and wildlife." Doris Cellarius, Sierra Club Magazine
“Alaska: Call of the Wild of course, and Flight of the Goose"~Owner of Castle Books in Beaumaris, Wales;
recommending for Andrea Reads America reading project
Spring, 2014: The world (and editors who thought the Arctic and climate change were not important or interesting) wake up and realize the Arctic ice is nearly gone and that it was the globe's air conditioner and was keeping climate stable. Next is Antarctica! Oops.
"Flight of the Goose" listed as "cli-fi" (cli-fi, or climate change lit, is the newest sub genre of literature;"Flight of the Goose" was listed as "eco-fiction" or "deep ecology fiction" in 2005.)
2012 Inuit Studies Conference: "Flight of the Goose" got recommended to scholars at this event
Nov 30, 2013, Queen Anne Book Company in Seattle; I talked up Alaskan authors for INDIES FIRST
August, 2013, "Flight of the Goose" gets listed in the biblio of Pamela Stern's "Historical Dictionary of the Inuit", 2nd Ed. - it was used as a textbook in '08 at Sterling College in Vermont; Stern's course: "Stories and Storytellers of the Circumpolar North"
2013; Book club in Tallahassee, Florida reads "Flight of the Goose"
2010, "Flight of the Goose" cited in "Daily Life of the Inuit", the first exhaustive study of modern Inuit society across the Far North
August 2012: Alaska Gray Lines puts "Flight of the Goose" in their recommended list of Best 17 Books Set in Alaska"
And famed ecologist blogger "Arcticisms" takes it with her hiking all over Alaska
March, 2012: My first listing in a European newspaper! From Austria Die Press.com "A literary journey into the blue on the day of the ten primaries in the United States...Is it remote? Alaska! James A. Michener has been immortalized in the 1988 bestselling novel, he takes the reader from ancient times up to Eisenhower. Who wants to get closer to the present, without having to meet Sarah Palin, should be "Flight of the Goose" (2005) take into account by Lesley Thomas. She writes about issues in the Arctic Circle in the seventies that are still relevant today." (sic)
January 1: celebrating the sale of #2,500 "Flight of the Goose" in 30 states and at least 8 nation states!
2011: The book made it to the Far North of Norway into the hands of Saami (grandpa Tor would be proud)
"Flight of the Goose" now with Kindle!
November 2010; Listed in Mike Ruppert's Collapsenet directory (a site to help people prepare for ecological and economic collapse)
Aug. 2010, Fairhaven College reunion showcases Flight of the Goose and and an ancient poem I wrote as an undergrad
April 2010: Now nationally distributed (and print on demand, a much greener option)
TBA 2010, upcoming interview with Joanna Harcourt at FuturePrimitive
Winter Semester 2010, University of Alaska Fairbanks studies "Flight of the Goose" again!
2010, two of my short stories will appear in University of Alaska Press flash fiction anthology "Cold Flashes"
November 2009, my short story "End Times for Ruby" set in modern Nome, Alaska appears in The Northern Review literary journal
August 09, my poem "Why as a Mighty Salmon I Will Not Leave" satirizing ex-governor Palin won third place in 49 Writers Ode to a Dead Salmon poetry contest, later appearing in "Alaska Magazine"
June, 2009, FirstBorns book club in Oregon reads Goose: see photos at http://picasaweb.google.com/tvbenge/FirstBornsBookGroupAtPatSJune2009#
May 11, 2009, book club, Port Townsend, WA
April 21, teleconference with University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Kuskokwim campus
March 9, 2009, interview at 49 Writers, a new blog by and about Alaska writers
March 2, 2009, teleconference with Juneau book club
Spring Semester 2009, A P Biology Class at Peninsula High in Gig Harbor, WA chooses Flight of the Goose for its ecology curriculum!
Winter Semester 2009, Boston University Theology Department chooses Flight of the Goose again for its curriculum!
February 10, 2009, teleconference with Bethel Alaska book club
Winter Semester 2009, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Kuskokwim Campus English Department chooses Flight of the Goose for its curriculum!
August, 2008, Pacific Northwest Library Association Conference
Spring Semester 2008, Boston University Theology Department chooses Flight of the Goose for its curriculum!
June - Dec 2008, Flight of the Goose displayed and sold at Burke Museum, University of Washington with exhibit "The Last Polar Bear: Facing the Truth of a Warming World"
March 30, 2008; Glenallen Alaska book club (author teleported via wormhole)
February 7, 2008; 7:00 pm - All For Kids (and Adults Too) bookstore : meet the author; Seattle
September 26, 2007, 7-9:00 pm Snow Goose Art Gallery, free, 8806 Roosevelt Way NE Seattle, (206) 523-6223,http://www.snowgooseart.com/;
September 6, 2007; 7:00 pm, free, Seattle Metaphysical Library, 2220 NW Market St, L-05 Seattle,(206) 329-1794, http://www.seattlemetaphysicallibrary.org/events.html
June 2007; Presenter at Kachemak Bay Writers Conference,
March 28, 2007; Santoro's Books , 7216 Greenwood Ave. N. Seattle, (206) 784-2113,
February 13, 2007; 10th Mountain Infantry Division (World War veterans) Seattle Yacht Club
April 16, 2007; University of Washington Extension Reading Club
November 18, 2006; Nome Book Club; teleconference and remote signing
September 9, 2006; National Federation of Press Women Annual Conference; book signing, selling, award ceremony; 3:30-8:00 pm; Adams Mark Hotel, Denver, CO
September 13, 2006 In Other Words Bookstore; Portland, Oregon;
Reprint, Translation, Film/TV and Electronic Rights handled by Cine/Lit Representation (Contact Mary Alice Kier at email@example.com)