Reference Books

NATIVE NORTH AMERICAN LITERATURE, 1st Ed, , Gale Research Inc., 835 Penobscot Bldg., Detroit, MI 48224, (800) 877-GALE (4253). 1994 706 pp. $99, ISBN 0-8103-9898-2

This huge literature reference work is in 2 sections. The first is a too-narrow branch of oral tradition, mostly comprised of biographical-historical essays mostly about Native orators, who mostly were political leaders. Songs and other parts of the oral tradition are represented by reprinted articles or introductory essays (to collections) by well-known scholars. The second half deals with Native writers -- U.S. and Canadian -- mostly of the 20th century. It includes biographical data, critical appraisals excerpted from books and literary reviews, a list of more sources and interviews with many of the writers. 35 modern writers are included: Jeanette Armstrong, Lame Deer, Joseph Bruchac, Michael Dorris, Louise Erdrich, Linda Hogan, Basil H. Johnston, Markoosie, Scott Momaday, Leslie Marmon Silko and others. Even more important are key figures from the 19th and early 20th century: William Apess, E. Pauline Johnson, Ella Deloria, Simon Pokagon, Alexander Posey.

Each author is represented by a brief biographical section, a listing of major publications, and sometimes a short overview essay by the editors. This is then followed by a reprinting of well- chosen essays or reviews of the author's works, often from publications it would be difficult to find except at major research-center libraries.

The 20th-century writers were chosen to provide a range of cultural, historical, political, spiritual and artistic perspectives. This is not a reference work of biographies, which tend to focus on a few facts about an author's life, but a unique compilation perspectives on each author's work. It is an essential college or university library item, and belongs in the personal library of anyone teaching Native American studies. In fact it's the perfect crib-compilation for someone teaching a course in Native Lit who uses the complementary paperback, Smoke Rising, which contains excerpts from the writings of almost all the authors whose works are discussed in the reference here.

Reviewed by Paula Giese

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Native American BOOKS, text and graphics copyright Paula Giese, 1996

Last Updated: Saturday, April 20, 1996 - 12:26:09 AM