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For Readers: Blog

Reading that reveals the Native American experience

by Book Geniuses on 2020-11-17T10:58:42-06:00 in Fiction, Books & Reading | Comments

November is Native American Heritage Month, a particularly good time to explore the works of Indigenous authors, though these are books worth reading any time.

The experiences of North America's modern Indigenous peoples, no strangers to loss and inequity, are told through stories of resilience and identity that are especially timely. Ranging from the realistic to the supernatural, any one of these well-crafted titles is sure to hook you as a reader while also broadening your perspective. 

Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden is a page-turning crime novel that is both thrilling and eye-opening. When the people of the Rosebud Indian Reservation don't get justice or protection from the federal government, they turn to Virgil Wounded Horse, a private vigilante. After he hesitates to look into the expanding reach of a drug cartel on the reservation, things become personal for him and he must evolve from enforcer to investigator if he wants to save the day. [e-book | print]

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones is a slow-burn horror read, so thoughtful and lyrical that you’ll forget what is lurking just out of sight. Told through the eyes of four childhood friends connected by a fateful hunting trip, this is a story of violence, revenge, and paranoia. It manages to be both an unnerving supernatural tale and a grounding look at the realities of contemporary life for the Blackfeet Nation, whose lands are bordered by Montana and Alberta. [e-book | print]

In Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice, a small Anishinaabe community is completely cut off from the rest of the world. They're used to power outages and limited lines of communication, but as their isolation grows, they become uneasy. To survive a harsh Canadian winter, the community bands together and turns to tradition, but it’s not long before the outside world threatens to intrude on their lives in this atmospheric, post-apocalyptic story. [e-book | print | audiobook]

This Town Sleeps by Dennis E. Staples portrays the clash between modern life and Ojibwe spiritualism and tradition. Back in his oppressive small town and discouraged by his prospects for a relationship, Marion begins a secret liaison with a former classmate. What follows is a slightly magical and non-linear journey of self-discovery as Marion is drawn to the mystery of a forgotten murder. [e-book | print | audiobook]

In the Night of Memory by Linda LeGarde Grover is a moving coming-of-age story that follows the journeys of two young girls who are given up by their mother. Despite the ordeal of one foster placement after another, and the collective trauma of the women in the Ojibwe community that led to their mother’s dire circumstances, this is a hopeful tale of the healing power of family and finding a place to call home. [print]

There, There by Tommy Orange is an award-winner and book club favorite for good reason. Orange tells the stories of twelve characters, all drawn to the Big Oakland Powwow. Readers learn their motivations, how their lives are connected, and just how much hinges on the event. A masterful look at some of the many identities and faces of contemporary urban Native American life, this dramatic story is especially stunning on audio. [e-book | print | large type | audiobook]

--Laura


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