Winner of the American Book Award
Synopses & Reviews
"A dangerous enemy has arrived on our shores with weapons of fire . . . He's a very different kind of Wasano, bloodsucker, he always hungers for more".—from Shell Shaker
The action in this debut novel alternates between 1738, as a Choctaw family prepares for war against the English, and the 1990s, as their Oklahoma descendants, the Billys, fight a Mafia takeover of the tribe's casino. In trouble with the law and in the fight of their lives, the Billy women must find a way, as their ancestors did, to join forces against a devious foe. Humor, toughness, and resourcefulness are the Billys' only weapons.
Until the Shell Shaker shows up.
LeAnne Howe, an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, is a fiction writer, playwright, scholar and poet whose writings on Choctaw women are drawn from both personal experience and scholarly research. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies, including Through the Eye of the Deer, Returning the Gift, Spider Woman's Granddaughters, and Earth Song, Sky Spirit, as well as in journals such as Callaloo and Fiction International.
Howe has read her fiction and lectured throughout the United States, Japan and the Middle East, and her plays have been produced in Los Angeles and New York City. She has also presented programs on recruitment and retention of American Indians at universities and colleges. Currently, she teaches in the English Department at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
In 1991, Howe received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to conduct research for Shell Shaker.
"Howe writes audibly. Power transmits through the voice behind her vivid, tangible descriptions and her beautiful, drop-dead-funny dialogues....Howe takes on history in a way that imparts its meaning and power to us, the readers." Carolyn Steeves, Resound
The action in this novel alternates between 1738, as a Mississippi Choctow family prepares for war against the English, and the 1990s, as their Oklahoma descendants, the Billys, fight a Mafia takeover of the tribe's casino. In trouble with the law and in the fight of their lives, the Billy women must find a way, as their ancestors did, to join forces. Humor and toughness are the Billys' only weapons. Until the Shell Shaker shows up.
Why was Red Shoes, the most formidable Choctaw warrior of the eighteenth century, assassinated by his own people? Why does his death haunt Auda Billy, an Oklahoma Choctaw woman, accused in 1991 of murdering Choctaw Chief Redford McAlester? Moving between the known details of Red Shoes life and the riddle of McAlesters death, this novel traces the history of the Billy women whose destiny it is to solve both murders with the help of a powerful spirit known as the Shell Shaker.
As the Billys fight to save their Choctaw community, a 250-year-old history plays itself out again.
About the Author
Before writing fiction, plays, and scholarly essays, LeAnne Howe worked in Oklahoma as a waitress, and in a factory making the stems for plastic champagne glasses. Most recently she has taught at Carleton College, Grinnell College, Sinte Gleska University on Rosebud Sioux Reservation, and at Wake Forest University. Ms. Howe is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. She is a grandmother.