by Oskar Hokea
I get connected via social media to all kinds of fascinating people. A few years ago I started following the blog of Oskar Hokeah, who has an MA in English and is a member of the Cherokee Nation and Kiowa Tribe.
Not long after, his agent sold his novel, Calling for a Blanket Dance to Algonquin Books. The story was published this summer and is selling like gangbusters, and for good reason! Read my review below or on Goodreads.
I love books that invite me to join communities I might not otherwise get the opportunity to experience, and that’s exactly what Oskar Hokeah does in his fabulous debut novel, “Calling for a Blanket Dance.”
Told from the perspective of various members of a Native American-Mexican family in Oklahoma, the story revolves around Ever, the son of Turtle, part Kiowa and Cherokee, and Everardo from Chihuahua, Mexico.
In each chapter, a different family member tells their story in first-person, a weaving of narrative that always includes a thread about Ever. Through all of these different eyes and experiences, we see him grow up and navigate the many pitfalls of life. At the same time, we see the family that surrounds and protects him even in the darkest times. Only in the last chapter do we finally hear from Ever, which also happens to be the triumphal moment he earns stability for his family.
The storytelling is marvelous! Each character’s voice is unique, real and includes Native American language, phrases and lore in a way that makes you feel like you’re not an outsider, but instead, someone welcomed into Ever’s home.
Ultimately this is a story about the ties between family, that when woven together, can save a man and his kids.
For updates about Martha’s forthcoming memoir, Bliss Road (June 2023), historical novel, The Falcon, the Wolf and the Hummingbird (October 2023), or other books, news and giveaways, subscribe to her website.