Minik goes international
Iqaluit author launched into limelight

Kerry McClusky
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Apr 03/00) - Exactly how does recent Oscar winner Kevin Spacey figure into small-town life in Nunavut?

The question, which can only be answered by Iqaluit writer Kenn Harper, will likely be on the lips of many residents in the near future. The author of Give Me My Father's Body -- The Life of Minik, The New York Eskimo, Harper sold the book's film rights to Spacey.

And while the Hollywood actor has yet to act on those rights, Harper assured fans of the compelling story that the day they'd see Minik on the big screen wasn't too far off.

"I met with Kevin Spacey in New York in the summertime. He remains committed to it, the option is still in place," said Harper.

"I haven't seen any concrete progress towards the movie, but I spoke with his manager and she said he still remains committed and expects to begin work on it in the very near future," he said.

If that doesn't leave fans and residents of the territory just a little impressed, noting the name on the foreword of the most recently released edition might drum up a little respect.

Scheduled to be put out on the shelves later this month by American company Steerforth Press, Spacey's name is once again attached to the project.

"When Steerforth called and agreed they'd publish it, we began casting about for somebody to write a foreword to it," says Harper.

"We played around with a few names and then we said we knew Kevin Spacey likes the story and is interested in it and committed to it, let's see if he'll write the forward. So I phoned him and asked him and he agreed."

Spacey's acceptance left Harper feeling quite pleased.

"It was a tremendous boost for the book. He's a very interesting person that gets solidly behind projects that he's interested in. It was very flattering for him to agree to write the forward to my book."

Originally written 14 years ago, the story of Minik follows the life of a young Greenlandic boy taken from his home by explorer Robert Peary. Kept in New York City, tragedy struck Minik's life when four of the other Greenlanders -- including Minik's father -- were killed by disease and he was forced to live in a strange culture in the public eye.

Harper, whose extreme faith in the tale has stayed strong over the years, said the renewed vigour in the project was incredible.

"Steerforth is treating it as a new book because I published it myself initially and it was only largely distributed through (Arctic Ventures). They published it this month and they're solidly behind me and promoting it. I'm going on a promotional tour late April and early May and then another one in June," said Harper.

Steerforth has also licensed a British edition due out in London in August and they've also sold the paperback rights.

Harper added the newest edition, reviewed in the New York Times and the Boston Globe, joins the seven other editions currently in print in five languages.

"I feel gratified. Maybe I was just 14 years too soon. But it's been a story I've always believed in."