THE DEAD GO TO SEATTLE by Vivian Faith Prescott


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In Prescott’s debut collection, a young Native American woman confronts colonialism, homophobia, and a history of erasure by reclaiming the stories of her people.

Tossed out of her father’s house on Wrangell Island in Alaska, Tova Agard strikes out on her own. When she meets a man collecting Native stories for the Smithsonian on the ferry to Seattle, it’s unclear whether he’s been sailing through the Gulf of Alaska for generations or only a few days. “Sometimes our stories take more than our lifetime to tell, you know,” Tova reveals, kicking off a cycle of tales about the Agards that stretches—and possibly disrupts—time itself. Ranging from myth to small-town gossip to family trauma, these 42 stories are loosely arranged to create generational echoes, though it's sometimes difficult to trace the many threads Prescott weaves. There’s Tova’s mother, Mina, still contending with abandonment and the consequences of teen pregnancy, while her father, Karl, struggles with masculinity, Tova’s queerness, and the viciousness of his own upbringing. Helene, Tova’s grandmother, runs off to join a 1970s alien cult, while Mina’s sisters remain to circle her in support. Amid the family saga, myth and collective memory intrude. Women transform into bears, explorer John Muir makes an appearance, Raven the trickster god causes trouble, and Tova may be the key to preventing colonialism from destroying her language and her people.

An uneven but ambitious collection that boldly explores the intersection of magic, queerness, and indigenous history.

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-59709-904-2
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Red Hen Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2017


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