Review: House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday

“I prayed. He was going home, and I wanted to pray. Look out for me, I said; look out each day and listen for me. And we were going together on horses to the hills. We were going to ride out in the first light to the hills. We were going to see how it was, and always was, how the sun came up with a little wind and the light ran out upon the land. We were going to get drunk, I said. We were going to be all alone, and we were going to get drunk and sing. We were going to sing about the way it always was. And it was going to be right and beautiful. It was going to be the last time. And he was going home” (Momaday, 166).

To put it briefly: it was an absolute privilege to read N. Scott Momaday’s House Made of Dawn. This book is one of the essential works of Native American literature and is credited with bringing Native writers to greater prominence in the literary world. It’s about a young Native American man who comes home from WWII only to find himself caught between the natural world of his ancestors and the urban world of an industrialized America. Through the many disturbing, heart-wrenching, and alarming events in the book, Momaday’s writing maintains a sense of elegance and grace that I have rarely seen paralleled. It’s an incredibly profound commentary on Native American identity that also offers a unique and under-appreciated perspective of American culture. It’s a novel that isn’t a work of “fiction”, if you consider how this story is representative of a very real communal experience and existence. This fact is one of many things that makes House Made of Dawn so powerful, but if you keep that particular one in mind as you read, this story will shake you to your core in the most breathtaking way imaginable.

Rating: 5/5

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