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Indigenous Peoples’ Day: 3 Native Authors to Read Now and in the Future

by  | October 14

We are thrilled to welcome Hugo and Nebula-award winner Rebecca Roanhorse, co-author of Trail of Lightning and Storm of Locusts, to Get Lit today! In honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, she’s recommending three books by a few of her favorite Native authors. Thanks for joining us, Rebecca!

Right now, Native literature seems to be experiencing a long overdue boom. With works by Tommy Orange becoming a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Terese Marie Mailhot’s memoir hitting the New York Times bestseller list, and Angeline Boulley’s YA debut selling at auction for a rumored seven figures, it feels like Native voices are breaking into the mainstream in a big way. Here are some of my faves.

Buckskin Cocaine by Erika Wurth

A novel told in alternating voices and vignettes, Buckskin Cocaine offers a glimpse into the incestuous and competitive world of Native filmmakers. The strivers, the oversized egos, the up-and-comers—they are all here, and they converge in the city of Santa Fe for a film festival that will expose their darkest desires and secrets. The book is raw and avoids any of the overwrought stereotypes found in a lot of Native fiction in exchange for gritty and difficult voices that resound with truth. Wurth also released a book in March entitled You Who Enter Here, which is a fictional look at gang life in New Mexico and reservation border towns that is described by the publisher as “[a story of] terrible darkness, but also, unexpected beauty and tenderness.”

Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones

Jones is a prolific and award-winning horror writer. His contemporary werewolf novel, Mongrels, was nominated for both the Bram Stoker and a Shirley Jackson award in 2016. Mapping the Interior, his most recent novella, won the 2017 Bram Stoker award and is told primarily from the perspective of a fifteen-year-old boy whose dead father has come back to life as a ghost. Any benevolence on the part of the ghost is quickly put to rest as the boy realizes his father has returned for his own purposes, and they aren’t good ones. It’s a story about fathers and son and cycles of violence, but it’s also a tense and creepy old-fashioned haunting. Jones has a new novel coming out in April of 2020, titled The Only Good Indians, which looks to be just as brutal, unflinching, and haunting as his other works. I cannot wait.

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

I’m a fan of Little Badger’s short fiction, including the Apache Victorian Gothic “The Whalebone Parrot” and her short horror “The Famine King.” I’m excited to read this author’s first foray into longer fiction, Elatsoe, which will be her YA debut in 2020. It’s described as a ghost story informed by Indigenous ancestral magics. At the heart of the novel is a murder mystery and a small town full of secrets. Sounds promising.

Trail of Lightning

Trail of Lightning

by Rebecca Roanhorse

While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last best hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much more terrifying than anything she could imagine. Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel the rez, unraveling clues from ancient legends, trading favors with tricksters, and battling dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology. As Maggie discovers the truth behind the killings, she will have to confront her past if she wants to survive. Welcome to the Sixth World.

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Storm of Locusts

Storm of Locusts

by Rebecca Roanhorse

It’s been four weeks since the bloody showdown at Black Mesa, and Maggie Hoskie, Diné monster hunter, is trying to make the best of things. Only her latest bounty hunt has gone sideways, she’s lost her only friend, Kai Arviso, and she’s somehow found herself responsible for a girl with a strange clan power.

Then the Goodacre twins show up at Maggie’s door with the news that Kai and the youngest Goodacre, Caleb, have fallen in with a mysterious cult, led by a figure out of Navajo legend called the White Locust. The Goodacres are convinced that Kai’s a true believer, but Maggie suspects there’s more to Kai’s new faith than meets the eye. She vows to track down the White Locust, then rescue Kai and make things right between them.

Her search leads her beyond the Walls of Dinétah and straight into the horrors of the Big Water world outside. With the aid of a motley collection of allies, Maggie must battle body harvesters, newborn casino gods and, ultimately, the White Locust himself. But the cult leader is nothing like she suspected, and Kai might not need rescuing after all. When the full scope of the White Locust’s plans are revealed, Maggie’s burgeoning trust in her friends, and herself, will be pushed to the breaking point, and not everyone will survive.

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Buckskin Cocaine

Buckskin Cocaine

by Erika T. Wurth

Erika T. Wurth's BUCKSKIN COCAINE is a wild, beautiful ride into the seedy underworld of Native American film. These are stories about men maddened by fame, actors desperate for their next buckskin gig, directors grown cynical and cruel, and dancers who leave everything behind in order to make it, only to realize at thirty that there is nothing left. Poetic and strange, Wurth's characters and vivid language will burn themselves into your mind, and linger.

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Mapping the Interior

Mapping the Interior

by Stephen Graham Jones

Mapping the Interior is a horrifying, inward-looking novella from Stephen Graham Jones that Paul Tremblay calls "emotionally raw, disturbing, creepy, and brilliant."

Blackfeet author Stephen Graham Jones brings readers a spine-tingling Native American horror novella.

Walking through his own house at night, a fifteen-year-old thinks he sees another person stepping through a doorway. Instead of the people who could be there, his mother or his brother, the figure reminds him of his long-gone father, who died mysteriously before his family left the reservation. When he follows it he discovers his house is bigger and deeper than he knew.

The house is the kind of wrong place where you can lose yourself and find things you'd rather not have. Over the course of a few nights, the boy tries to map out his house in an effort that puts his little brother in the worst danger, and puts him in the position to save them . . . at terrible cost.

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