Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands (Paperback)

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A New York Times Notable Book; a Barack Obama’s end of year favorite of 2022; and the winner of Canada Reads

Kate Beaton’s Ducks stunned the world with its unflinching honesty and candid vulnerability, cementing its place in the graphic novel canon alongside Maus, Persepolis, and Fun Home. With the singular goal of paying off her student loans, young Katie heads out west to take advantage of Alberta’s oil rush—in the tradition of East Coasters seeking gainful employment when they can’t find it in the homeland they love so dear.

Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands puts Beaton’s natural cartooning prowess on display. Colossal machinery and mammoth vehicles are set against a sublime Albertan backdrop of wildlife, Northern Lights, and Rocky Mountains. But as one of the few women among thousands of men working for the world’s largest oil companies, the culture shock is palpable. It does not hit home until she moves to a spartan, isolated worksite for higher pay. Katie encounters the harsh reality of life in the oil sands where trauma is an everyday occurrence yet never discussed. For young Katie, her wounds may never heal.

Her first full length graphic narrative, Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands is the first graphic novel to win Canada Reads, and was named Best Book of 2022 by The New Yorker, Time, NPR, The Chicago Tribune, and The Washington Post. One of Publishers Weekly’s Top 10 Books of the year, it was also named among the Best Graphic Novels of the Year by Forbes, The Globe and Mail and The Guardian.

About the Author

Kate Beaton was born and raised in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada. After graduating from Mount Allison University with a double degree in History and Anthropology, she moved to Alberta in search of work that would allow her to pay down her student loans. During the years she spent out West, Beaton began creating webcomics under the name Hark! A Vagrant, quickly drawing a substantial following around the world.

The collections of her landmark strip Hark! A Vagrant and Step Aside, Pops each spent several months on the New York Times graphic novel bestseller list, as well as appearing on best of the year lists from Time, The Washington Post, Vulture, NPR Books, and winning the Eisner, Ignatz, Harvey, and Doug Wright Awards. She has also published the picture books King Baby and The Princess and the Pony.

Beaton lives in Cape Breton with her family.

Praise For…

“A monumental synthesis of history, politics, and herself.” —Vulture

Epic. Kate Beaton headed west [to] one of the world’s most environmentally destructive oil operations, where workers lived in barracks-like camps and men vastly outnumbered women. Her experience there… gave her an insider’s view into a place and piece of Canadian history few outsiders ever see.” —The New York Times

“Ducks... is a rebuttal to hierarchies of silence, an attempt to draw attention to forms of suffering that are easier to ignore.” —The New Yorker

What a difficult, gorgeous and abidingly humane book.” —The Guardian

“Kate Beaton's exceptionally well-told and well-drawn graphic memoir… full of insights into human and environmental degradation, make[s] her a memoirist of the first rank.” —The Los Angeles Times

Ducks is a bruising and intimate account of survival and exploitation—of both the land and the people who worked on it—and is brought to life by Beaton’s immersive illustrations. In unveiling her plight, Beaton makes stunning observations about the intersections of class, gender, and capitalism.” —TIME

Product Details
ISBN: 9781770467125
ISBN-10: 1770467122
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
Publication Date: March 25th, 2025
Pages: 436
Language: English