SONG OF THE TURTLE by Paula Gunn Allen


American Indian Literature 1974-1994
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 Allen, a prolific Native American poet and novelist, follows up an earlier anthology of modern American Indian fiction (Voice of the Turtle: American Indian Literature 1900-1970, not reviewed) with a second volume bringing her sampling of the field up to date. This remarkably diverse collection underlines the fact that there has been an explosive growth in both the quantity and quality of fiction being produced by Native Americans. Allen shrewdly mixes familiar voices (Leslie Marmon Silko, James Welch, N. Scott Momaday, Louise Erdrich, Sherman Alexie) with less well-known writers (Louis Owens, Susan Power, Luci Tapahanso). Allen suggests some defining characteristics of this ``second wave'' of work: ``a sense of renewal and hope, reasserted, often deeply angry, Native identity; and incorporation of ritual elements in both structure and content.'' That seems right, but it should be added that the stories often reflect a ferocious sense of humor, a deft mingling of spirituality and the everyday, and a wonderfully exact feel for the details of family life. Superb introduction to a distinctive literature of real power. A volume devoted to memoirs and essays would be welcome.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-345-37525-4
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: One World/Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1996


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