Rediscover: House Made of Dawn

In 1969, N. Scott Momaday won the Pulitzer Prize for his 1968 debut novel, House Made of Dawn, which is credited with sparking a Native American Renaissance in literature during the 1970s and beyond. Momaday is the son of a partial Cherokee mother and full-blooded Kiowa father. His parents spent much of Momaday's childhood teaching on reservations in Arizona and New Mexico, exposing him to Navajo, Apache and Pueblo cultures. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from Stanford in 1963. Following the success of House Made of Dawn, Momaday released The Way to Rainy Mountain (1969), which combines an oral history of the Kiowa people from their origins in ancient Montana to their forcible resettlement in Oklahoma with Momaday's modern musings on his ancestry. He has since written plays, poetry, essays, fiction and a memoir, The Names (1976).

House Made of Dawn was originally conceived as a series of poems set in Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico. The expanded novel follows World War II vet Abel, whose alcoholism and PTSD make his return to the reservation difficult. Abel ends up in prison, struggles to survive in Los Angeles and finally returns home to care for his dying grandfather. In December 2018, HarperCollins released a 50th-anniversary edition of House Made of Dawn with a new preface by Momaday ($15.99, 9780062909954). --Tobias Mutter

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