Culture March 18, 2017
I’ll bet you don’t have enough to read from Native American authors. They create wonderful combinations of folklore, mythology, oral tradition and poetry all mixed in with social commentary.
So the next time you head to your library, check out some of these authors.
Sherman Alexie – who grew up on the Spokane Reservation in Washington – is one of the best-known Native American authors of contemporary fiction. He writes fiction for both adults and young adults, poetry and has even produced several films.
According to the New York Times, “Alexie’s best stories bring the two sides of this literary persona – the embittered critic and the yearning dreamer – together in ways that are moving and extremely funny.”
“The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven” (1993) is one of his best-known works and the movie based on it, “Smoke Signals” (1998), has received wide praise. The semi-autobiographical young adult novel, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” (2007), is still a bestseller and has even been taught in schools.
A Laguna Pueblo author and teacher, Leslie Marmon Silko is best known for her novels “Ceremony“ (1977) and “Almanac of the Dead” (1991) which were inspired by native oral traditions. Her works are best known for the storytelling elements that are incorporated within both her fiction and non-fiction books.
In addition to writing novels, Silko also writes poetry, having written several collections including “Storyteller” (1981) and “Sacred Water” (1994).
N. Scott Momaday “has devoted much of his life to safeguarding oral tradition and other aspects of Indian culture,” according to PBS. His best-known work is “House Made of Dawn“ (1968), which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1969. This novel is considered the first to spark the literary movement known as the Native American Renaissance, paving the way for countless Native American authors to follow.
Momaday also writes poetry, children’s books, drama, folklore and memoir.
An incredibly prolific writer of Anishinaabe descent, Gerald Vizenor has written dozens of novels, collections of essays and poetry and academic studies. He first received acclaim for his novel “Bearheart: The Heirship Chronicles,” which was first published in 1978 and later revised in 1990.
Vizenor is currently Professor of American Studies at the University of New Mexico.
Louise Erdrich is an Ojibwe author of both adult and children’s fiction. “The Plague of Doves” (2008) and “The Round House” (2012) – which won the National Book Award for Fiction – are considered some of her best works.
In an interview for The Paris Review, she is quoted saying, “By writing I can live in ways that I could not survive.” Erdrich is also the owner of Birchbark Books, a bookstore based in Minneapolis that features many Native American writers and speakers.
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