Monday, November 15, 2010

Highlight on Native American Literature

House Made of Dawn (1969) - N. Scott Momaday
This novel is widely cited as leading the way for subsequent Native American literature. The novel is based on Momaday’s personal experiences on Jemez Pueblo. The protagonist of the story, Abel, grows up on the outskirts of society and lives on different reservations after serving in World War II. Abel eventually learns the importance of upholding his family's traditions as a way to preserve his heritage. The novel earned a Pulitzer Prize in 1969.

Ceremony (1977 )- Leslie Marmon Silko
This novel is considered one of the seminal pieces of Native American literature. Silko tells the story of Tayo, a young, mixed-race, World War II veteran who returns to his reservation with severe shell shock and emotional and psychological damage. He battles alcoholism but is later redeemed with the help of Betonie, a local priest, who, through ceremonial processes, helps Tayo see his place in the world.

Love Medicine (1984) - Louise Erdrich
Harkening to the style of William Faulkner, Erdrich presents a series of interconnected, non-linear short narratives from the perspective of many different characters. Seven characters from two families present fourteen stories about themselves and their relationships. Readers, especially Native Americans, appreciate her realistic portrayal of Native American life. The book also received the 1984 National Book Critics Circle Award.

Fools Crow (1987) - James Welch
Set in post-Civil War Montana, this novel tells the coming of age story of White Man’s Dog, who later becomes Fools Crow, a young Blackfoot Native American experiencing change in the American West due to the increased influence of white society. The novel provides a candid examination of early Native American life and the influence of outsiders on Native American society and traditional values.