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An entirely new approach to reading, understanding, and enjoying Native American fiction
This book has been written with the narrow conviction that if Native American literature is worth thinking about at all, it is worth thinking about as literature. The vast majority of thought that has been poured out onto Native American literature has puddled, for the most part, on how the texts are positioned in relation to history or culture.
Rather than create a comprehensive cultural and historical genealogy for Native American literature, David Treuer investigates a selection of the most important Native American novels and, with a novelist's eye and a critic's mind, examines the intricate process of understanding literature on its own terms.
Native American Fiction: A User's Manual is speculative, witty, engaging, and written for the inquisitive reader. These essays—on Sherman Alexie, Forrest Carter, James Fenimore Cooper, Louise Erdrich, Leslie Marmon Silko, and James Welch—are rallying cries for the need to read literature as literature and, ultimately, reassert the importance and primacy of the word.
“[David Treuer] is mounting a challenge to the whole idea of Indian identity as depicted by both Native and white writers.” —The New York Times
“Treuer. . . executes a searing examination of such beloved authors as Louise Erdrich and Sherman Alexie. His conclusion: 'Native American Fiction does not exist.' ” —The Washington Post Book World
“Treuer asks that novels by Native Americans be afforded their status as literature, not cultural artifacts, an argument bound to impact Native American literature programs.” —Library Journal
“His challenge to his readers is to judge Native American writers by the literary quality of their effort, their originality, and the power of their language, not by their origins or by any attempt to discover authenticity.” —Magill's Literary Annual