Must-Read Native American Fiction

Must-Read Native American Fiction

Get ready for Schlafly's upcoming Native American Life Today program series by checking out some of these essential reads by Native American authors. You can learn more about the program series here:

Thursday, April 11 @ 7 pm: Modern Native American Life
Thursday, April 18 @ 7 pm: Powwow Prep


This frank, funny young adult novel by Spokane-Coeur d'Alene author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Arnold Spirit, a bookish Spokane teenager with a penchant for drawing cartoons who attempts to escape the despair-inducing poverty of the reservation where he lives by transferring to a new high school.

A trailblazer in both her creative works and her anthropological writing, Laguna Pueblo author and scholar Paula Gunn Allen weaves feminist and lesbian themes into this story of a biracial woman named Ephanie who journeys from New Mexico to San Francisco in order to better understand herself and the other women in her life.

Celebrated Chippewa author Louise Erdrich won the National Book Award for this harrowing novel about the teenage son of an Ojibwe tribal judge who undertakes a search for justice and truth after his mother survives a brutal assault.

Stephen Graham Jones is a Blackfeet author of many horror, crime, and speculative fiction works, and this novel, about a Native American boy who follows an apparition of his dead father to a room in his family home which he did not know existed, draws on elements horror and fantasy to tell a frightening and resonant story of personal discovery.

This short story collection by American-Canadian Cherokee author Thomas King blends Native American storytelling traditions with Western fiction-writing techniques to explore questions of race, religion, cultural clashes, and much more among Native Americans in the modern day.

This influential novel by Kiowa writer N. Scott Momaday, about a Native American man's tumultuous return to his reservation after serving in World War II, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1969 and is frequently cited as the work that kickstarted the so-called Native American Renaissance of the '60s, '70s, and '80s.

Cheyenne and Arapaho author Tommy Orange's highly lauded debut novel makes use of a shifting perspective to tell the stories of a handful of urban Native American characters as they prepare for the annual pow wow in Oakland, California.

This award-winning novel by Eden Robinson, a Canadian writer of the Haisla and Heiltsuk First Nations, tells the story of a teenage Haisla girl named Lisamarie who receives visits by shapeshifters and ghosts as she searches for closure following her brother's mysterious death at sea.

Another classic work of the Native American Renaissance, Laguna Pueblo author Leslie Marmon Silko's novel takes a nonlinear approach to the story of Tayo, a PTSD-afflicted, biracial veteran of the Second World War who seeks healing in the stories and rituals of his Laguna ancestors.

This historical novel by Ojibwe author David Treuer centers on a shocking act of violence at a Minnesota summer resort in 1942 and explores the issues of racism, sexuality, wartime trauma, and more that radiate out from this single event.

This playful but cutting postmodern tale by preeminent Chippewa author and academic Gerald Vizenor imagines a reality in which Christopher Columbus was a descendant of ancient Mayans who was called to the Americas through his ancestral memories, and whose modern-day kin must conduct a heist to reclaim and bury his remains.

Blackfeet and A'aninin author James Welch's classic and award-winning novel takes place shortly after the American Civil War, and follows a young Blackfeet man who undergoes a series of personal trials as white invaders continue to encroach ever further onto indigenous land.

This lyrical, innovative new novel by Canadian Oji-Cree, Two-Spirit author Joshua Whitehead gives us the story of a young Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer protagonist named Jonny, who, among other trials and changes, must find a way to scrape together the money for a return to the reservation following the death of his stepfather.

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