November is National Native American Heritage Month when as a nation we celebrate and honor the Native peoples of America. Native American culture is not a monolith, and neither is its literature. From award-winning to bestsellers, the Native American authors weave tales for all ages in genres ranging from young adult and literary fantasy to crime thrillers and horror. The folks at Goodreads put together 15 of the most popular and recently published books by Native American authors on their site and asked members why they liked the books. That’s what they said.
According to Goodreadswrote: “This ambitious, thought-provoking debut was a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award nominee. Going like a thriller, the story presents a cast of characters in what seem like individual stories until, one by one, they become connected and collectively an emotionally disturbing tale.”
Goodreads member review: “The book is powerful, vibrant, terrifying, eye-opening, and most importantly, fresh. This is Orange’s first novel, and you have to wonder what else the guy carries in his back pocket. This book is very broad, full of beautiful voices and unique writing styles that make The mind wanders as to what Orange might have stopped.
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According to Goodreads: In this contemporary YA fantasy, welcome to America with magic, fairies, shapeshifters, vampires, and a young Lipan Apache teen named Elatsoe with the family gift of raising the spirits of the dead. murder with the help of her parents and her best friend. It is a story of grief, justice, friendship and the power of stories.”
Goodreads member review: “Each chapter draws you deeper into this world where humans walk side by side with beings of belief. This book strikes the perfect balance of humor, action, loss, and intelligence that I have come to expect from it.”
According to Goodreadswrote: “Stephen Graham-Jones is known for chasing the literary end of the horror spectrum. In ‘Only Good Indians’ he weaves elements of Native American culture into a dark, creepy story full of surprising twists and turns. Somehow it’s also funny, though with plenty of gore.”
Goodreads member review: What an absolute triumph for a horror novel. This novel kept me up for more than a night either from contemplation or reading.”
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According to Goodreads: Angeline Poly’s debut novel is a fast-paced YA thriller set on a turbulent Ojibwe reservation. College student Denise Fontaine returns home to care for her mother, when she witnesses a horrific murder. Reluctantly agreeing to go undercover, she uses her knowledge of chemistry and traditional medicine to track down the killer. “.
Goodreads member review: “I had a really great reading experience! I learned so much about Native American culture including their traditions, language, history, how they used plants to turn them into natural medicines, their deep knowledge of chemistry, and their survival skills!”
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According to Goodreads: “Louise Erdrich, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, delivers a story of magical realism crossed with grim, old-fashioned realism. As Minneapolis deals with a year of tragedy and reckoning, ex-con Tookie tries to solve the murky problem from her own independent little bookstore. Sometimes ghosts aren’t just metaphors.” .
Goodreads member review: “Not many authors can include all the things Erdrich does in this novel and make it work. Scary, bookstore, Covid, motherhood, George Floyd’s death and ensuing protests, marriage, quarantine, and more.”
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According to Goodreads: An epic story of five generations of a large Chicano Native family in the American West that readers of historical fiction will love. Told through the main character, Luz ‘Little Light’ Lopez, we follow the triumphs, struggles, and changes of each generation. Vivid descriptions of the setting will transport you to the heat and landscapes of the West. old, but while the background is familiar, you’ll experience a different perspective than the traditional West.”
Goodreads member review: “This is a story about family, love, loss, and keeping one’s personal and familial stories and histories alive without being forgotten. Through her eyes we see the hardships and treatment of Indigenous and Indigenous groups and cultures as settlers and other immigrants move out. It is beautiful, disturbing, harrowing, and sad And sad at the same time.”
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According to Goodreads: “Carrie James’ world of dive bars and heavy metal takes a bizarre turn when she’s gifted an old family bracelet that once belonged to her mother. Now haunted by visions of her mom and haunted by a second sinister entity, Carrie is forced to reckon with her past – the spooky way. Author Erica T. Worth brings a Native American perspective to Horror novels that are often compared to Stephen King’s classics.
Goodreads member review: “This book gave me goosebumps. It’s a family drama, mystery and ghost story all rolled into one (and a bit of a love letter to Stephen King).”
According to Goodreads: Subtly interconnected, this collection of 12 tales takes place in and around the Penobscot Native American community in Maine. Moving back and forth in time, focusing on different times in the life of David, a young man growing up on the reservation, there is much loss in these stories. , but also to survive.
Goodreads member review: “This book was more of a fully vivid, layered portrait of a family than an ordered story with a traditional arc.”
According to Goodreads: Through a series of short stories, told from the viewpoints of various family members who are part Cherokee, Kiowa, and Mexican ancestry, you learn about the life of Iver Gemausaddle, a young Native American. Many of the themes from these stories are deftly woven together later in the book. Which ultimately reminds us of how family and friends come together to help us get through life.”
Goodreads member review: “A quilt woven from the many voices of the Geimausaddle family, this book shows the complex dynamics of a family (and community) dealing with generational trauma, systemic poverty, and existential threat.”
According to Goodreads: For fans of sci-fi and fantasy, Black Sun is the start of an epic trilogy inspired by the pre-Columbian civilizations of the Americas. In this novel, the Day of Convergence comes, when the stars and planets align. Prepare to embark on a journey of heavenly prophecies, political intrigue, romance, and magic.
Goodreads member review: “I loved the level of intrigue, intrigue, backstabbing, and danger that Runhorse brought to this story. It’s so multifaceted and fascinating.”
According to Goodreads: Your daughter’s boyfriend beats her up? Your child is being abused by a rogue teacher? Call Virgil Wounded Horse, the unofficial ranger of the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, and he’ll take care of what the law won’t. Crime lovers, this first novel is a slow burn, character-driven story that keeps you up for the time being Late to finish the book.
Goodreads member review: “A crime thriller that has as much grit as it does heart, Winter Counts had me flying through the pages right up to the very end. I am a huge fan of this debut by David Heska and Wenble Weiden.”
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According to Goodreads: “An honest exploration of mother-daughter relationships, Crooked Hallelujah follows four generations of Cherokee women in their attempts to live their lives and make better choices for their daughters. But as this fictional story shows, those choices are made more difficult by poverty and a loss of tradition and identity.”
Goodreads member review: “An expansive novel about three generations of Cherokee women. Kelly Jo Ford’s writings are compulsively readable, shining a light on religion, the choices women are forced to make in poverty, and economic injustice against indigenous groups.”
According to Goodreads: Inspired by Cherokee folklore, “The Removed” is a thrilling family drama with ongoing echoes of the supernatural. The Echota family, gathering for their annual campfire, finds the membrane between the real world and the spirit world growing thinner. The acclaimed novel is a meditation on family and trauma And the enduring power of stories.”
Goodreads member reviewBrandon Hobson’s The Removed is such an intimate novel that I felt like I was eavesdropping on other people’s lives while reading it.
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According to Goodreads: A warm, dark, and humorous collection of 12 short stories about the lives of contemporary Native American women, covering various topics from a student’s invitation to a “Friendsgiving” party (celebrating a national holiday it doesn’t recognize) to a young professional recovering from a broken heart to the historical story of an Osage woman who hides her origins in Mid-Century in Oklahoma”.
Goodreads member review: “What I enjoyed most about Hicks’ stories is where the vivid characters are from her characters, each diverse in their lifestyle and voice yet similar in their heritage and loyalties, and how they create a community of support for them, even in the midst of difficult times.”
According to Goodreads: A finalist for the National Book Awards, Shutter is a crime thriller, supernatural horror, and poignant portrait of coming of age on a reservation. Meet Rita Todachine, a young Navajo woman who works for the police department as a forensic photographer. That being said, she also has the ‘gift’ of seeing the dead, which is not a good thing when photographing murder victims. And the dead are asking for her help.”
Goodreads member review: “This story is more than a thriller, more than a ghost story. It is one of family and history, culture, past and present, walking with defined boundaries and self-discovery.”