Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Prize Winning Fiction
Prize Winning Fiction

1969 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Winner

House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday


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



Publisher’s synopsis:

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.





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<1968> -  <1970>















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Age guide: 12



Novels by same author:



1987 film directed by Richardson Morse




2016 Pulitzer Prize Winner

It's a massive day in arts and journalism because the 100th annual Pulitzer Prize winners were just announced, and there's a big surprise. 2015's best artistic and nonfiction writing across 21 categories were recognized during a ceremony Monday afternoon at Columbia University in New York City. The first Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Hebert Bayward Swope, a reporter for The New York World, in 1916. (And if you're as big a fan of Newsies as I am, that paper should ring a bell, but try to think of it more positively.)

The major prize for book nerds, the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction went to The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press), a legitimate surprise, if you've been paying attention to the book nerd and industry buzz. The feeling around the prize in the last few months would have you putting all your hard-earned cash down on A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara to take home the award, but that's why you should never gamble. Viet Thanh Nguyen is no less deserving, and moreover, it's his debut novel, which makes it such a wonderful win.

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