Publisher: Harper Perennial
Length: 208 pages
About: Native-Americans Conflict with Post-War US
Style: 1st & 3rd Person
Where: US, (New Mexico, California)
When: 1940s and 1950s
In June 1945, a young Tano Indian named Abel returns from World War II army service to Walatowa, his home village in New Mexico, only to find he is caught between two worlds. There is the world of
his ancestors, wedding him to the rhythm of the seasons and the harsh beauty of the land, a land of creatures, traditions and ceremonies reaching back thousands of years. But it is the urban world of
post-war white America, with its material abundance and promise of plenty that draws Abel away from his people. It is a choice fraught with pain, however, for Abel winds up in prison, then
drifts to Los Angeles and into a compulsive cycle of dissipation and disgust.
Then he saw the eagles across the distance, two of them, riding low in the depths and rising diagonally toward him. He did not know what they were at first, and he stood watching them, their
far, silent flight erratic and wild in the bright morning. They rose and swung across the skyline, veering close at last, and he knelt down behind the rock, dumb with pleasure and excitement, holding
on to them with his eyes.
The Pulitzer Prize this year has been awarded to this quite extraorinary book, which is like nothing I have ever come across….is a portrait in words of a people whose eyes are held “upon some
vision out of range, something away in the end of a distance”. It is part of the American heritage, beautiful and strange, grave and mysterious.
The Times, Philippa Toomey, 24th May 1969
Not so good:
"[Momaday] has considerable descriptive power....Yet the rhetoric is a bit too facile, smacks somewhat of campus creative-writing, and on occasion creates a nebulosity opaque enough to count as
self-parody. One can understand the Pulitzer prize jury's being bowled over by it now and then; one is none the less surprised to note that it stayed mesmerized long enough by Mr. Momaday's
bittern-boomings to award his book the prize."
Times Literary Supplement
About the author
Born in February 27, 1934. His Kiowa name is Tsaoi-talee. He was born near Anardarko, the Oklahoma Kiowa Indian agency. His parents are Al Momaday, a Kiowa, and Natachee Scott,who was part
Cherokee. Among the awards he has received for writing are the Pulitzer Prize and the Premio Letterario Internazionale "Mondello." He is Regent's Professor of English at the University of Arizona,
and he lives in Tucson with his wife and daughter.