Cover to Cover with Green Grass, Running Water

Green Grass, Running Water is one of my favourite examples of CanLit – playful and full of humour, but with deep undercurrents of epic storytelling and ancient strife. The novel dives into colonialism, land rights, and just how much one person can owe to their family or home town.

Considering Thomas King has won a host of awards for his work, I was surprised at how few covers I found for this book. It’s only been translated into a couple of languages and only has a few different editions in English. All the same, there are a few great covers in the bunch.

Navy cover   Paperback II   Paperback

The image of a coyote seems to be one that all the designers have latched onto, which makes sense – as the trickster of traditional indigenous tales, Coyote makes more than one appearance in the book and always seems to have a paw in somewhere.

The trade paperback edition (centre) is by far my favourite, and for once in my life, my favourite cover is actually the edition I own.

Then we stumble into completely lacklustre and dated design in the translated versions:

German edition        French edition       French edition II

I’m at least a little fond of the French translation (far right) – especially the inclusion of the car imagery. But the other two translations (the only two I could find!) are frankly dreary.

Overall, none of these covers really stir me, which is a little sad considering it’s one of my favourite books. But lucky for me, I have talented friends and I convinced one of them to design a new cover for Green Grass:

green grass running water cover

I love that it includes more car imagery, and that the font is a nod to the campy Old Western imagery that plagues the characters. You can see more work from the talented Anthony Biondi here and here, and he writes about his process creating this particular cover on his blog.

Which cover is your favourite? I’d love to see your comments. Feel free to link to any great cover art that I’ve missed!

Cover to Cover is a weekly project comparing and critiquing covers of popular novels, published every Wednesday. Find more posts in this series here.


2 thoughts on “Cover to Cover with Green Grass, Running Water

  1. Wow, those official covers are horrible. You’re description of the book sounds really good, definitely something I’d check out. But with those covers, I’d give them a wide berth in any bookshop. (Yes, I’m shallow. I prefer things to be aesthetically pleasing. And those don’t even have trashy charm.) The last one your friend made is much better, even though the colouring and lettering aren’t entirely my cup of tea. The image with the cars itself is lovely though.


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