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House Made of Dawn

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  7,304 ratings  ·  609 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 Education (first published 1968)
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Average rating 3.66  · 
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Neither do I claim a remote kinship with this bit of cultural heritage and the inheritance of alienation nor can I shed light on Momaday's true intentions behind parading a succession of disconcerting images each one more striking in its harsh beauty than the last. I do not know about the 'Native American Renaissance' or the precise mechanism at work behind the 'other'-ing of literature which aims to suture the guttings of history. Instead, I can only avow an understanding of a sterile rage that ...more
Sean Forbes
Aug 08, 2007 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
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
Feb 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read, uni, usa
This Pulitzer Prize winning novel tells the story of Abel, a young Native American torn between the reservation and the white world of settler colonialism, but it is also a book about the estrangement and alienation of postwar America in general. After fighting in WW II, Abel returns to the rez drunk and disturbed, and can't find his place in the world. After committing a terrible crime, his mental state is further unravelling...

Major themes in the book are racism and alienation, the loss of cul
Jul 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
May 08, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
1.5 stars? This book annoyed me. It was jumbled and disjointed, which made it quite confusing. I recently read Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko and found myself comparing the stories and writing unfavorably for this book. They both deal with the topic of traumatized vets but Ceremony is more cohesive and relatable (I gave it 5 stars), although it was also non-linear.

I honestly have little idea what happened in this book and I ended up skipping about 10 pages of the end because I just didn't care
Jan 08, 2010 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
Folks, let's remember that this is a PULITZER PRIZE winning novel. If you yourself, didn't click with it, so be it. But ...who exactly are you? Please don't posture or preen when you write reviews on this silly website. Remember, the entire www.internet is junk, an embarrassment, trivial and trite. A cowardly fart of a technology that facilitates people farting in each other's faces.

Meanwhile. M. Scott Momaday wrote his ***Pulitzer-Prize winning**** novel before you were even born, and nothing
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
Jan 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Edwin Priest
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You sit down to the table. It is old and stained and pitted. The light comes in sideways from the dirty opaque window on your left, with little flecks of dust floating lazily in the orange evening sunlight.

The stew sits in front of you, redolent with the essence of the Native American Southwest. Each ingredient is tangible and distinct: the warm pieces of pork, the soft orange butternut squash, the posole, the flecked pinto beans, the coarse pieces of onion and fine pieces of minced garlic, the
Michael Finocchiaro
This Pulitzer winner was the first by a native American. It is a collection of short stories, all rather bland, which had some passing beauty, but I was not overwhelmed by the writing or the characters.

My rating of all the Pulitzer Winners:
Dec 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was drawn to this book (outside of wanting to read more Native American literature) by the beautiful poetic title, and was not let down by the writing inside; it is gorgeous. Other reviewers have complained of the broken up narrative, but I didn’t have much trouble understanding the different sections and their place in time, aside from part 2 where it is not clear until part 3, but is clarified quickly. It was much easier for me than my experience with Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko, but per ...more
Apr 27, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  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
Allie Riley
Mar 16, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Craig Werner
I first read House Made of Dawn in a 1970 class on modern American literature. The class had split, sometimes with great passion, into factions devoted to either Hemingway or Faulkner, with the key issue amounting to something like "clarity vs. complexity." When we showed up for the first class on House Made of Dawn, both factions were sure Momaday was on "our side." And of course, we were both both right and wrong.

I start with that because I think it speaks to the importance of Momaday's brilli
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
This was an interesting read. I didn’t particularly like it but I didn’t dislike it either. It was about average to me. The prose is poetic and Mamaday’s descriptions of the landscape and even trivial matters such as the colors of a room were well crafted. However, the disjointed narrative and lack of detailed character development hurt the novel immensely and prevented it from being truly great in my humble opinion. I never felt a connection to the text or what story there was to be had, I mere ...more
Mary & Tom
Jan 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
This novel will need several readings to be completely appreciated. I write this review having read the novel for the second time in my life. House Made of Dawn requires active, attentive, and engaged readers. There are several narrative styles and time shifts back and forth.
The prose is beautiful. Francisco and Able, grandfather and grandson, are characters whose actions and experiences illustrate Native American life as members try to hold on to their traditions and religion despite living on
Nov 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 05, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-fiction
House Made of Dawn is a portrait, though not a self-portait, of its protagonist Abel; as Momaday himself says, Abel is “the sum of [other characters’] perceptions. As a result, the weight and difficulty of the binaries that tug at Abel’s personhood are represented variously, with Momaday’s picturesque landscapes serving as a constant. While it’s easy to understand the historical significance of this novel, I found it challenging to remain rooted in the more basic elements of its plot and wish th ...more
May 23, 2017 added it
Shelves: 2017, dnf
DNF at page 36. Might just be bad timing, but I could not focus on this.
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
Joseph Carrabis
Oct 31, 2019 rated it did not like it
I am going to write a book. It will be a short book but I will use long sentences to slow people down. I will use similes and metaphors from white and native cultures interchangeably and often combine them to more slow people down. I will use odd phrasings to again more slow people down. I will write about things I know but not many others know and it won’t matter what I write because I’m the first of my kind to write such a book and because I’ve studied long and hard people will think it’s a gr ...more
Dec 19, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: adventure
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Thing Two
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  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
House Made of Dawn is N.Scott Momaday's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel from the late 60s. Based on his own experiences and what he saw growing up on Jemez Pueblo in New Mexico, Momaday, the first Native American to win a Pulitzer is credited with beginning a Renaissance in Native literature as a result of this work and opening the way for many of today's native artists.

The book begins the story of a Kiowa man, Abel, as he returns to his reservation after fighting in World War II. He is so drunk he
Powerful book about a man that wants to embrace the old ways of his Native American culture while he struggles to live in a modern, mostly white society; a modern society that unfortunately delves little into the interconnectedness of all souls. He manages his sorrows about this with alcohol. He endures a lot of abuse for being Native American. Parts of this book are heart wrenching. There are also undercurrents of an intense sensuality- that are actually incredibly moving. I think what is movin ...more
I'm glad I finally read this Pulitzer-prize-winning classic. Wonderfully descriptive and beautifully bleak. Audio version does not do justice to language (cadence) or characters. Momaday only reads the introduction. Too bad--he would have done well to read it all. ...more
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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

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