Stories of oppression and survival, of heritage denied and reclaimed twenty-two American writers recall childhood in their native land.
Riley, a graduate student in ethnic studies at UC Berkeley, has gathered more than 20 pieces (most previously published) about coming of age as an Indian in North America by such well-known writers as Leslie Silko, N. Scott Momaday, Louise Erdrich and Michael Dorris. The material is diverse, ranging from a 19th-century account of a boy's first buffalo hunt to modern-day memoirs of childhoods scarred by poverty, racism and abuse. The collection contains fiction and nonfiction from the U.S. and Canada, reflecting the invisibility of these national borders to indigenous Americans. Cherokee critic Geary Hobson provides a Faulkneresque excerpt from an unpublished novel about intricate family ties among Indians in Arkansas, and Simon Ortiz writes movingly about making the difficult transition from his native Acoma language to English, but the best selection is from John Joseph Mathews's underrated novel Sundown , which shows an Osage boy grappling with Christianity in 1920s Oklahoma. Riley prefaces the selections with brief introductions. ( July )