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House Made of Dawn

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  3,939 ratings  ·  256 reviews
The magnificent Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of a proud stranger in his native land.

He was a young American Indian named Abel, and he lived in two worlds. One was that of his father, wedding him to the rhythm of the seasons, the harsh beauty of the land, the ecstasy of the drug called peyote. The other was the world of the twentieth century, goading him into a compulsive c
Paperback, 198 pages
Published May 2nd 2000 by McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages (first published January 1st 1967)
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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman AlexieThe Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman AlexieBeyond Oria Falls by Sheryl SealLove Medicine by Louise ErdrichCeremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
Native American Fiction
25th out of 513 books — 485 voters
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Pulitzer Winners: Fiction & Novels
54th out of 89 books — 907 voters

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Community Reviews

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Sean Forbes
I found some amazing quotes from the text about the Southwestern landscape, which I loved. I felt, however, that the characters of Abel and his grandfather, Francisco, are an enigma to me. I don't have a lasting memory of them as vivid characters. But what does stand out in the text is the landscape. Perhaps that was Momaday's main point.
House Made of Dawn is built on the model provided by John Joseph Mathews' Sundown and D'Arcy McNickle's The Surrounded: mixed race Indian finds himself unable to fit in on the reservation or in white culture. Momaday adds to this formula the fact that his protagonist, Abel, is an American war veteran as well as a more experimental narrative structure.

Momaday's novel is important less because it breaks new ground thematically (it doesn't, really) than it is because of its status as the first nove
I read this book in one sitting. I found it extremely well written, and throughout I felt like I was existing with the characters. This book achingly portrayed the plight of Native Americans in the middle of the twentieth century, torn between the ancient and modern ways, scourged by alcoholism. I really liked the way Momaday interspersed past and present, the same way that people actually experience life, in their minds. Although this work saddens me on behalf of the protagonist, it does offer ...more
Allie Whiteley
This is a fascinating novel but for me it was hard to follow. I don't know if it was the shifting viewpoints and/or the fact that I appear to be coming down with a cold, but it took me far longer to read than I thought for. Many paragraphs had to be reread several times.

The descriptive passages are gorgeous - you can tell the author is also a poet. As far as I could determine, the plot is as follows. Abel, a Native American, has grown up with his grandfather's stories and heritage. He learnt to
Not a book one can rush through, and with it's lush, poetic prose why would you? Momaday captures the intrisic connections between the natural, spiritual and human worlds that are part of the American Indian experience. Pulitzer prize winner 1969.
J.G. Keely
Momaday's now-famous book has more social and political importance than literary. Like the genre it ushered in, it may have been positive for the writer in general, but often relied upon a cliche racist/anti-racist dichotomy played through vague and often meaningless metaphor.

The author's busy mind has made a complex work, but not one with any central point or in-depth exploration. The 1970s New Age movement was a combination of many different world philosophies, attempting to find some common g
Thing Two
Feb 08, 2013 Thing Two rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Thing Two by: Rollins Winter with the Writers
Scott Momaday presents the story of Francesco, an old man living in the past. Woven into this story are the lives of other characters - Father Olguin, Abel, Tosomah - who live in the present, but also in the past. Momaday is exploring the past and its relationship with the present using dreams, myths, and symbols. Momaday is also a poet and artist, and his understanding of the oral tradition of storytelling comes across in his beautifully written sentences. However, and this is a big however, th ...more
A while back a teacher and friend asked me: “What I wonder is, to what extent is Momaday a man of words on account of his adherence to his Kiowa side (the way Stegner adhered to his Norwegian side), and to what extent is he a man of words because he is a literary man? There is no doubt the genesis of the word-man comes from the native side, which mainlines right into that great sermon in House Made of Dawn, preached from the text, "In the beginning was the Word."

Here are a couple of extracts fro
Okay, so, this is such a disjointed novel, told via descriptions of the settings of memories, and I read it so long ago, that it's hard to remember the whole picture or even much of the plot, but I had noted this quote down:

But the shoes were brown and white. They were new, almost, and shiny and beautiful; and they squeaked when he walked. In the only frame of reference he had ever known, they called attention to themselves simply, honestly. They were brown and white; they were finely crafted an
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Sara  (
I am SO glad I ignored the negative reviews of this book, and am now frankly suspicious that some of the bad reviews may come out of cultural biases. This book reads like many other modern (white, male) writers that I have loved - with some stream-of-consciousness and slipping back and forth between present and past - but I feel like some of the critiques I read have a whiff of culturally-biased criticism based on the fact that Momaday is Native American - that this book is "incoherent" or "scat ...more
Bob Rosenow
This was more confusing and obscure than The Sound and The Fury. I suppose the Pulitzer committee was impressed by it's veneer of native American spiritualism. I think it's an unreadable construction of meaningless imagery, with fewer than ten pages of dialogue in the whole book.
Carole Rae
This is the first novel I've read by N. Scott Momaday and probably not the last. I've heard mixed reviews about this, so I was ecstatic to read it and form my own opinion.

When I first began to read I found myself in love with the scenery that Momaday showed. Well, I had already a deep love for the scenery since I went out to California last year. I felt very connected with the world he described and showed me, however that was the only thing I could connect to.

I felt very distant with the chara
Apr 29, 2011 Maria rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Maria by: Dr. Marit MacArthur
N. Scott Momaday’s House Made of Dawn (1968) is one of those texts that require a certain kind of patience to read, especially in a world that has come to expect information to be reduced to fifteen and thirty second sound bites. The story is told in four distinct parts by different narrators, and the reader doesn’t always know who the point of view is coming from, or why. Even more disconcerting is the way in which the story is told in a nonlinear way: The explanations for many of the mysteries ...more
Initially I had a hard time staying with this book as it jumped around but I'm glad I did. The imagery and the soulfulness in this book is worth it. It's short but not the type of book you can read quickly. Some poems in it too. Abel is an Indian but he's lived in the white world in the armed forces. But at times it's also Hispanic with the language and culture. It's multicultural long before the term came into use. If you ever wanted to know what a LSD trip would be like you get a masterful tre ...more
Christopher Rex
So, the guy won the Pulitzer Prize for the book AND the lead character shares my name ("Abel"). Plus, I've always been a big fan of Native American studies/literature/history/etc., so I figured I would give it a whirl. Now that I am done, I just don't know. I THINK I "got it," but I'm just not sure. I understood what the author was driving at w/ the story, but I just couldn't get his rhythm going. I felt like it "jumped all over" too much and I just didn't get into the lead character's mind as w ...more
Derek Emerson
N. Scott Momaday's first novel, "House Made of Dawn," is noted by some critics as sparking a renaissance in Native American literature. Published in 1969, the novel won the Pulitzer Prize, rave reviews, and a place in the canon of contemporary literature.

So, it is with some hesitation that I admit to not enjoying the novel too much. There seems to be an attempt at being elusive, at showing only part of what is happening, in a way many post-modern novels do. I actually enjoy many novels without t
Demisty Bellinger
So much of this book is description, hardly any dialog, and, it seems, most of what is being described are the landscapes, particularly the canyon area where Abel and his tribe—the Cañon de San Diego—live. Sometimes, Momaday offers the landscapes of the body, such as a brief description of Abel and Angela Grace St. John's bodies when they make love:

"She was very pale in her nakedness, and slight. But her body was supple and round. Her throat was long and her shoulders narrow and tapered. Her bre
House Made of Dawn was required reading for my university course on the American West. While I only had time to read passages at the time, I finally went back for a full reading recently.
Momaday does an excellent job weaving Native American culture and the view of typical modern American culture from the point of view of the newly exposed Native American. Being able to understand and fully follow the story required knowing a bit about Momaday and this writing style as it jumps locations, time f
I seem to be drawn to these books where the main character is psychologically or spiritually trapped between two cultures. At some point I'll really have to investigate that and find out how that information can be applied to my life. But that's a heavy load to take on on a Saturday night.

Abel is an American Indian who has returned to the reservation after returning from war. The issue here is his father wants him to remain on the land, to learn from it and live off it and be a part of it, just
Maybe two or three times in my life I have had an experience like the one I had while reading this book. At first blush, I have no reason to connect so intimately with this novel: the internal struggles of a Southwestern Indian, newly returned from WWII. But from the very first, Abel's hurts were my own. The book is true and sad and very human.

I haven't read the Goodreads reviews yet, and still I know there will be dissension. More than half of this book is description of the rain or the mesas o
It was a hard read, but after finishing it I really appreciate this book.
First two chapters are a real challenge. The descriptions of nature and native american rituals are really beautiful but except for enjoying them there is not much to like in those two chapters. The plot is rather complicated and I actually had no idea what was going on - the point of view is constantly changing, at times I wasn't even sure who is the focalizer at the moment, there are many flashbacks and it is also hard t
I really wanted to like this book. The author is obviously a talented writer, describing things (particularly landscapes) in such vivid and poetic detail that you can't help being pulled into the settings. Unfortunately, this is about the only great thing about this book. At no point during the narrative do we really get a clue as to who the characters are, and their development is so lacking, in fact, that it makes me wish they were at least two-dimensional cardboard cut-outs.
And the story is
I thought this was one of the most beautifully written novels I have read. The prose was truly poetic, and it truly drew me into a vivid world painting wonderful images within my mind and evoking the senses. The narrative style, and the way in which the book seemed to move through time made it difficult to follow the story and keep track of the characters and what was going on but I found I really did not care because I was so swept away within the brilliance of the language. Reading the book di ...more
I thought that the worst book ever was "The Shack" but I've changed my mind. This was everything you wouldn't want a book to be. It was confusing (different narrators, time periods, etc.) with no "way in" to figure it all out. It was pointless. It was dull. It was pompous. There were long descriptions of setting that were meant to be beautiful and poetic, but which were actually terribly tedious. The fact that it won the Pulitzer makes me lose any faith I might have had in literary awards. There ...more
TheRLPL Rice Lake Public Library
Patron Review:

This Pulitzer Prize winning book delves into the life of a Native American named Abel, who served in World War II and returned home to the southwest as an alcoholic and as one totally dislocated emotionally from the society from which he came--Pueblo society in New Mexico. When his grandfather meets him at the bus on his return, Abel reels off the bus and falls dead drunk at his feet. The novel traces the events of his childhood, the struggle that Abel endures on his return--his ab

Bad Horse
The book is very Native American. I don't know if a book could have been "Native American" before the homogenization of Native Americans thru pow-wow culture and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, but today there is a Native American way, and even a Native American accent, which I've found everywhere from the Creek of Florida, to the Iroqouis of New York, to the Hopi in New Mexico.

The book is in four parts, and four is the number of wholeness to the Navajo (and perhaps to the Kiowa as well), just as
Eva Herbert
This is probably the only time I will give a book 5 stars but not recommend it. It is not an easy read, told from different view points, stream of consciousness, and non-linear timeline. I will have to study each passage to really get it the next time I read it. I know that most people don't have the patience for that kind of reading, so for the mainstream reader I would say that House Made of Dawn is probably not going to work out. Yet, this is a 5 star book. N Scott Momaday has enshrouded the ...more
Timothy Teigen
”House Made of Dawn” by N Scott Momaday: The first novel by a Native American to win the Pulitzer Prize (1969), deals with the alienation of the contemporary Native American in post WW II United States. Able is the archetype of the lone displaced outsider, both to his tribe as he returns home from the war, and to the Anglo world as a Native American. With Momaday, the telling of the story is as important as the story itself, and a strained transposition takes place as oral tradition is given it’ ...more
Jeff Richards
House Made of Dawn tells the story of a Native American World War II veteran who cannot seem to find his place in life. His mixed heritage and inability to blend with the American culture causes for him to feel out of place. The format of the novel is unique, however it is hard to determine the time and setting of each narration. Momaday's poetic description of nature enhances the story detail, however much of the action that should be in the novel, is left out.
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N. Scott Momaday's baritone voice booms from any stage. The listener, whether at the United Nations in New York City or next to the radio at home, is transported through time, known as 'kairos"and space to Oklahoma near Carnegie, to the "sacred, red earth" of Momaday's tribe.

Born Feb. 27, 1934, Momaday's most famous book remains 1969's House Made of Dawn, the story of a Pueblo boy torn between th
More about N. Scott Momaday...
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“Coyotes have the gift of seldom being seen; they keep to the edge of vision and beyond, loping in and out of cover on the plains and highlands. And at night, when the whole world belongs to them, they parley at the river with the dogs, their higher, sharper voices full of authority and rebuke. They are an old council of clowns, and they are listened to.” 22 likes
“They have assumed the names and gestures of their enemies, but have held on to their own, secret souls; and in this there is a resistance and an overcoming, a long outwaiting.” 13 likes
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