Beth Piatote’s collection is a stunning debut. The variety of forms that her writing takes is audacious, and the skill with which she pulls it all off is enviable. Each story is filled with insight and empathy and the book as a whole is both moving and invigorating. This is a writer to watch. The Beadworkers is the best short story collection I’ve read this year. Recommended By Keith M., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Beth Piatote's luminous debut collection opens with a feast, grounding its stories in the landscapes and lifeworlds of the Native Northwest, exploring the inventive and unforgettable pattern of Native American life in the contemporary world
Told with humor, subtlety, and beautiful spareness, the mixed-genre works of Beth Piatote's first collection find unifying themes in the strength of kinship, the pulse of longing, and the language of return.
A woman teaches her niece to make a pair of beaded earrings while ruminating on a fractured relationship. An eleven-year-old girl narrates the unfolding of the Fish Wars in the 1960s as her family is gradually drawn to the front lines of the conflict. In 1890, as tensions escalate at Wounded Knee, two young men at college — one French and the other Lakota — each contemplate a death in the family. In the final, haunting piece, a Nez Perce/Cayuse family is torn apart as they debate the fate of ancestral remains in a moving revision of the Greek tragedy Antigone.
Formally inventive, witty, and generous, The Beadworkers, a singular debut collection, draws on Indigenous aesthetics and forms to offer a powerful, sustaining vision of Native life in the Americas.
"Piatote, who is Nez Perce, writes with dazzling clarity, emotion, and bone-dry humor about the lives of indigenous people, in what feels like a celebration, an act of love, and one of the most unforgettable story collections of the year." NYLON, 1 of the 34 Books You'll Want to Read This Fall
"Hope and heartbreak abound in this debut collection set among Native Americans in the northwest . . . Piatote balances the emotional complexities of her characters' lives with the political complexity of their relationship with an America all too eager to look away." Kirkus Reviews
"Beth Piatote's debut collection is smart, layered, and inventive. This is a profound and humorous meditation on Native families, language, and life. It is braided, and beaded, and true." Tommy Orange, author of There There
"The Beadworkers is a feast of wit and storytelling. I read it once to see where Piatote would go next. Twice to savor the emotional, cultural, and structural resonance of this wonderful work." Louise Erdrich, author of The Night Watchman
About the Author
BETH PIATOTE is a writer and scholar. She is Nez Perce from Chief Joseph's Band and is an enrolled member of the Colville Confederated Tribes. She holds a PhD from Stanford University and is currently an associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley. She lives in the Bay Area with her two children.