Since N. Scott Momaday’s 1969 Pulitzer Prize for House Made of Dawn brought Native American fiction squarely into mainstream culture, the genre has expanded in different ways and in new directions. The result is a Native American–written literature that requires a variety of critical approaches, including a discussion of how this canon differs from the familiar, established canons of American literature. Drawing on personal experience as well as literary scholarship, John Lloyd Purdy brings the traditions of Native American fiction into conversation with ideas about the past, present, and future of Native literatures.
By revisiting some of the classics of the genre and offering critical readings of their distinctive qualities and shades of meaning, Purdy celebrates their dynamic literary qualities. Interwoven with this personal reflection on the last thirty years of work in the genre are interviews with prominent Native American scholars and writers (including Paula Gunn Allen, Simon Ortiz, Gerald Vizenor, Sherman Alexie, and Louis Owens), who offer their own insights about Native literatures and the future of the genre. In this book their voices provide the original, central conversation that leads to readings of specific novels. At once a journey of discovery for readers new to the canon and an intimate, fresh reunion with important novels for those well versed in Native studies, Writing Indian, Native Conversations invites all comers to participate in a communal conversation.