Although Thomas King has never been called a literary celebrity in the popular press or in critical work, his negotiations with the landscape of Canadian cultural production are freighted with questions of public visibility, subjective authenticity, literary canonization, and national consecration. His literary works are readily appropriated by the nation even as he publicly takes on radically resistant notions of national legitimacy and belonging. This essay is located at the intersection of celebrity studies, critical race theory, and CanLit and argues that King’s position as a national literary celebrity gives us an opportunity to explore the nation’s complex and ambiguous appointment of the “cultural ambassador” and the particular success and visibility that King and his work maintain in Canada. It concludes that through his management of his celebrity image, King offers a critique of identity politics as the schema of Canadian cultural production.
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