Summer Reading List: Great Books by Native Writers

I used to really hate Twitter, but I’ve warmed up to it now that I’ve realized what a wonderful source of book recommendations it is. (Coincidentally, my local bookstore recently posted an uptick in profits after years of disappointing sales. I’m not saying that’s *entirely* the result of my discovering how to find my next great read on Twitter, but I’m certain it didn’t hurt.)

This morning I came across an excellent rant by Debbie Reese (@debreese) bemoaning the fact that Sherman Alexie is the only Native writer most people have ever heard about, when in fact there are hundreds of great Native writers out there.

She conveniently included several books in her rant, many of which I’ve now added to my perilously tall To-Read pile. I thought I’d share a couple of them with you, in case you also would like to add them to yours.

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

Marrow Thieves

Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves is set in a world devastated by global warming. The average person in Dimaline’s world has been so scarred by the harsh environment that they have lost the ability to dream. The dreamless ones are slowly, inexorably going mad.

Only North America’s Indigeneous People have retained the ability to dream. The key to their dreaming, and thus presumably the cure, lies in their bone marrow. Marrow factories have been set up around the country to extract the marrow and distill it into a cure that the world desperately needs. The catch is the extraction process kills the donor. Understandably, few donate their marrow willingly.

The Marrow Thieves tells the story of a fifteen-year-old boy and his companions as they struggle for survival in a world conspiring to kill them. The Marrow Thieves will be available September 1, 2017.

While I wait, I think I’ll dip into Cherie Dimaline’s previous novel, The Girl Who Grew a Galaxy.

The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich

PlagueofDoves

The first of three novels in an award-winning trilogy, The Plague of Doves describes how a set of unsolved murders have shaped life in Pluto, North Dakota. Generations have passed since a white family in Pluto was murdered and Native Americans from the nearby Ojibwe reservation were falsely accused and hung for it, yet the after shocks of that miscarriage of justice still ripple through this small town.

Over those generations, descendants of the innocent Native Americans and the whites who lynched them have intermarried, creating a complex blend of relationships that Erdrich uses to explore the “river of our existence.”

Of course, there’s hundreds more

Even @debreese’s twitter stream includes too many books for me to write up in this post. There are horror stories, contemporary short stories, historical fiction novels, graphic novels, and books for children of all ages by writers like Tim Tingle, Dawn Dumont, and Stephen Graham Jones.

While you’re browsing Twitter, be sure to stop by#HonouringIndigenousWriters, a hashtag established by Daniel Heath Justice (@justicedanielh) in 2016. Justice used the hashtag to tweet about a different author every day, starting January 1, 2016. By December 31, he had built a list of 366 writers across all genres.

What about you? Do you have a favorite Native writer you’d like to tell the world about?

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About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book, Did Dinosaurs Have Belly Buttons?, is currently planned for release in 2018. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Ten-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, chatting about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.blog, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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