NATIVE AMERICAN AUTHOR, TO DISCUSS HIS WORK
NYS Writers Institute, November 21, 2013
He is the author most recently of the highly-praised nonfiction work, Rez Life: An Indian’s Journey Through Reservation Life (2012). Combining memoir, history, investigative journalism, storytelling, and public policy analysis, Rez Life provides an insider’s view of modern Native American community experience. The Boston Globe called it a “blistering, illuminating, ultimately hopeful book.” Kirkus called it, “A movingly plainspoken account of reservation life…,” and said, “Alternating between personal recollections of unforgettable ‘rez’ personalities— e.g., tribal police officers, rice-gatherers and fishermen— and sharp-eyed historical analyses of events in Native American history, the author sheds light on aspects of Indian culture closed to most non-Natives.” Lisa Jones of Outside magazine said, “While Treuer doesn’t shy from the miserable side of Indian life, he unveils a world… that is complex and rich... often fun and occasionally hilarious.”
Treuer is also the author of the novels, Little (1995), about the death of a young child on an impoverished reservation; The Hiawatha (1999), about the tragedies endured by three generations of Indians who migrate to inner city Minneapolis; and The Translation of Dr. Apelles (2006), a Washington Post “Book of the Year,” about a Native American academic who has trouble making sense of his own identity.
A professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Southern California, Treuer is also the author of a much-discussed and controversial critical survey, Native American Fiction: A User’s Manual (2006), in which he argues that Native American fiction should be read, in the words of the Booklist reviewer, “purely as literature, ignoring the author’s identity, and thus the cultural context in which it is written.” The Washington Post Book World said, “Treuer. . . executes a searing examination of such beloved authors as Louise Erdrich and Sherman Alexie. His conclusion: ‘Native American Fiction does not exist.’”
With his older brother Anton, among others, David Treuer is currently at work on “the first (and only) practical Ojibwe-language grammar,” he describes in Rez Life.
The events are cosponsored by SUNY Press in conjunction with the annual John G. Neihardt Lecture, named for the celebrated American ethnographer and author, many of whose works are published by SUNY Press. Neihardt’s most well-known work is Black Elk Speaks (1932), a perennial bestseller, and a narrative record of the visions of a Lakota medicine man. The annual lecture was established by Neihardt’s granddaughter, Coralie Hughes.
For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.