Synopses & Reviews
A moving and deeply engaging debut novel about a young Native American man struggling to find strength in his identity, from a stellar new voice in literary fiction.
Told in a series of voices, Calling for a Blanket Dance takes us into the life of Ever Geimausaddle through the multigenerational perspectives of his family as they soldier through a myriad of difficulties: his father's sudden kidney failure and subsequent disability, his mother's struggle to hold on to her job and care for her husband, the constant resettlement of the family, and Ever's own bottled-up rage at the instability all around him. Meanwhile, all of Ever's relatives have ideas about who he is and who he should be. His Cherokee grandmother urges the family to move across the state to find security; his dying grandfather hopes to reunite him with his heritage through stomp dances and masks; at 18, his Kiowa cousin encourages him to spend his per cap money on an illegally good time. And once an adult, Ever becomes as weak and directionless as his father. But no one, except Ever, can save Ever.
How will this young man visualize a place for himself when the world hasn't given him a place to start with? Honest, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting, Calling for a Blanket Dance is the story of how Ever Geimausaddle found his way to home.
"With solid Tommy Orange vibes, the first novel from Oscar Hokeah is a coming-of-age tale told from a chorus of multigenerational voices....One to watch, for sure."
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"Calling for a Blanket Dance is a stunning novel. Oscar Hokeah writes from deep inside the heart of his communities, bringing life to generations of voices who became so real to me they felt like relatives. The reader can't help but invest in each character as they navigate bitter challenges, sometimes surprising themselves with their strength, their ability to survive and love. Hokeah's prose gorgeously weaves authentic local vernacular with the lyrical notes of hard-won insight. This novel belongs on every recommended booklist for fans of literary fiction."
Susan Power, author of The Grass Dancer
"Hokeah offers us a rich tapestry of interconnected narratives, a chorus of distinct voices battling against history, failing bodies, and barren landscapes. We move through decades, fall in love and despair with the Geimaussadle family. The scale and beauty reminds you of One Hundred Years of Solitude set in Oklahoma. Here's a True American Epic."
Gabriel Bump, author of Everywhere You Don't Belong
"The characters that populate Calling for a Blanket Dance are real, amazing, vulnerable and beautiful in their flaws and, even despair — Oscar Hokeah unveils their suffering and joy, their struggle to live with honor, care for family, walk right. What an accomplishment. Few writers have the courage or craft to pull this off. Hokeah beats the drum and stomps, announcing his power is back, the people have returned with powerful stories. He weaves a tale that is unforgettable and fortifying. I couldn't put the book down."
Jimmy Santiago Baca, author of A Place to Stand
"Oscar Hokeah is a storyteller for the ages. Wise and compassionate, Calling for a Blanket Dance is a gift. I couldn't put it down."
Debra Magpie Earling, author of Perma Red
"Filled with astonishing immediacy, and embellished with Hokeah's authentic voice, these epic stories soar with indelible images of a proud, but challenged, people who find strength through their blood-lines and their enduring familial love. Some characters are so broken and bitter that I was moved to tears. But most characters persevere, and thrive, through the indomitable will and pride of their heritage. Hokeah has accomplished something unique here. In his quietly brilliant depiction of his Cherokee/Kiowa/Mexican heritage he has dipped into his medicine bag and gifted us with a small but compelling masterpiece. This should be required reading for every American."
Kiana Davenport, author of Shark Dialogues
--Susan Power, author of The Grass Dancer
A moving and deeply engaging debut novel about a young Native American man finding strength in his familial identity, from a stellar new voice in fiction.
Oscar Hokeah's electric debut takes us into the life of Ever Geimausaddle, whose family--part Mexican, part Native American--is determined to hold onto their community despite obstacles everywhere they turn. Ever's father is injured at the hands of corrupt police on the border when he goes to visit family in Mexico, while his mother struggles both to keep her job and care for her husband. And young Ever is lost and angry at all that he doesn't understand, at this world that seems to undermine his sense of safety. Ever's relatives all have ideas about who he is and who he should be. His Cherokee grandmother, knowing the importance of proximity, urges the family to move across Oklahoma to be near her, while his grandfather, watching their traditions slip away, tries to reunite Ever with his heritage through traditional gourd dances. Through it all, every relative wants the same: to remind Ever of the rich and supportive communities that surround him, there to hold him tight, and for Ever to learn to take the strength given to him to save not only himself but also the next generation.
How will this young man visualize a place for himself when the world hasn't made room for him to start with? Honest, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting, Calling for a Blanket Dance is the story of how Ever Geimausaddle finds his way home.
About the Author
Oscar Hokeah is a citizen of Cherokee Nation and the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma from his mother's side and has Mexican heritage through his father. He holds an MA in English with a concentration in Native American Literature from the University of Oklahoma, as well as a BFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), with a minor in Indigenous Liberal Studies. He is a recipient of the Truman Capote Scholarship Award through IAIA and is also a winner of the Native Writer Award through the Taos Summer Writers Conference. His short stories have been published in South Dakota Review, American Short Fiction, Yellow Medicine Review, Surreal South, and Red Ink Magazine. He works with Indian Child Welfare in Tahlequah.