Calling for a Blanket Dance

Algonquin. Jul. 2022. 272p. ISBN 9781643751474. $27. F
DEBUTHokeah’s debut will feel familiar to fans of Louise Erdrich and Tommy Orange, shifting between the perspectives of different characters and jumping around in time to tell a story of the contemporary experiences of Indigenous people, while also taking care to disrupt any reductive notions of homogeneity in this arena. At its core is the birth-to-adulthood story of Ever Guimesaddle, a man of Kiowa, Cherokee, and Mexican descent living in Lawton and Tahlequah, OK. The strength of Hokeah’s work—across his entire cast of characters, but particularly with Ever—is his accomplished use of peripheral narration; each chapter features a new narrator, all of whom move through the other chapters as well, which results in a novel that builds in richness and intricacy as its forges ahead. It’s an expansive, mutating canvas Hokeah brings to bear, one that continues to grow until the final page, with myths small and large swirling amid familial and cultural histories. Inevitably, there’s some variance in quality between chapters, some feeling more like connective tissue than fully substantive in their own right, but Hokeah’s skill as a storyteller and eye toward exploring the intersections of various peoples, cultures, and histories cast him as a writer to follow.
VERDICT Another noteworthy debut in what feels like an ongoing renaissance of Indigenous peoples’ literature, both reflecting this lineage and introducing an exciting, fresh new voice to the choir.
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