House Made of Dawn – N. Scott
Momaday It’s the novel that started the first Native American Renaissance so it’s historical significance is unmatched. It’s also so beautifully written that it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1969. Not to mention it captures the Work Relocation Era perfectly and was our first urban Native novel situated in Pan-Indianism.
The Round House – Louise Erdrich
Erdrich captures reservation life better than any Native writer out there. Her characters are richly drawn and Joe’s inner turmoil over his mother, Geraldine’s, rape creates a main character filled with anguish and hope. Erdrich’s gives readers a backdrop of how sovereignty is minimized and disrupted by a legal system meant to bind and disempower.
Too Much Happiness – Alice Munro
Munro spins loved laced tragedy like Rumpelstiltskin spinning hair into gold. Her ability to capture the deepest psychology of a character is awe inspiring. Aside from winning the Nobel Prize in 2013, she is a writer who made me look at humanity differently, and I say that with total honesty. Just a completely amazing writer who inspires me to push myself in my own craft.
The Friend – Sigrid Nunez
I was sucker punched by Sigrid in this novel. I was excited to read the novel but I had no idea she had a dangerous uppercut. She speaks so perfectly to the literary field’s secret identity that I felt liberated with each sentence, so much so I couldn’t decide which was more quotable and also knew I couldn’t quote the entire novel. Just so resonant that it’s timelessness is in its ability to always be the perfect novel at the perfect time. Plus, it won the National Book Award in 2018.
Life and Death are Wearing Me Out – Mo Yan
Mo Yan draws the surreal with realistic edges, making us question if both aren’t one and the same. He’s a master artist who greets you at the front door with intoxicating images and before you know what’s happening you’re on the other side of the universe. He’s another Nobel Prize winner (2012) who made my list, and I thoroughly enjoyed the many lives of Ximen Nao each of the three times I’ve read this gargantuan novel.
Oscar Hokeah is the author of the forthcoming novel Unsettled Between. He is an enrolled member of Cherokee Nation and the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma from his mother’s family, with Latinx heritage from his father’s roots in Mexico. He has short stories published in South Dakota Review, American Short Fiction, Yellow Medicine Review, Surreal South ’09, and Red Ink Magazine.