The Evolution of Alice

By (author) David A. Robertson
Foreword by Shelagh Rogers
Categories: Short stories, Fiction: special features, Fiction and Related items
Publisher: Portage & Main Press
Paperback : 9781553799177, 240 pages, June 2020

From the award-winning author of Black Water comes this kaleidoscopic story of one woman’s place within the web of community.


Alice is a single mother raising her three young daughters on the rez where she grew up. Life has never been easy, but she's managed to get by with the support of her best friend, Gideon, and her family. When an unthinkable loss occurs, Alice is forced to confront truths that will challenge her belief in herself and the world she thought she knew.

Peopled with unforgettable characters and told from multiple points of view, this is a novel where spirits are alive, forgiveness is possible, and love is the only thing that matters.

Reissued with a new story by David A. Robertson and foreword by Shelagh Rogers.


I felt I was holding my breath as I read, because of the great sorrow, mysteries, wisdom, and love in this book. Beautifully written, and such memorable characters!

- Dora Dueck

Robertson writes feelingly of casual cruelties and everyday kindnesses. The novel follows… overlapping, sometimes unexpected connections of family and community, but it is held together by Robertson’s own voice, which is immediate, unflinching, and emotionally generous.

- Alison Gillmor

Robertson weaves seemingly separate points of view into a chorus of voices that sings our lost ones home. The Evolution of Alice is a story that uplifts, a tragedy not unusual but freshly told, and a read that will echo long after you’ve put it down. 

- Katherena Vermette

So many Manitobans have, like a character in an early chapter, only sped by reserves on the highway. Inviting us into a rich community of characters, which stretches deeper than the headlines most of us associate with reserve life, Robertson is doing a service to everyone who calls Manitoba home. And crafting an engaging story of one family’s recovery from loss—at a time when Indigenous peoples are increasingly flexing political, economic and cultural muscle in this country—is a gift for everyone hoping for a better future for our divided country…

- Matthew TenBruggencate, CTV Winnipeg

Pulsing at the heart of this novel are the warmly rendered inflections of storytelling voices like Gideon’s, at once reflective, vivid, and vernacular. And at the novel’s core, the broken but ultimately healing rhythms of Alice’s 'evolution'—her cycles of loving and suffering, of her family’s living, dying, and ultimately hoping to live anew — bring contemporary experience on the reservation and in the big city achingly, joyfully, and always pungently alive.

- Neil Besner, Professor, The University of Winnipeg