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House Made of Dawn

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  5,392 Ratings  ·  359 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 January 1st 1967)
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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.
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
Jul 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pulitzers
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
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.
Matt Garcia
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
Sarah Anne
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
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 distinctive, 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, ...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
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
Bob Rosenow
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.
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
May 23, 2017 added it
Shelves: dnf, 2017
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
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
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.
Jan 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
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
Bad Horse
Aug 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
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
Jun 21, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-american
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
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
Dec 16, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 4000-books
I liked reading about the landscapes in the book but everything was too disjointed for me. The timeline jumped around and characters were not defined or named so you didn't know who you were reading about most of the time. I wanted to learn a little more about Indian culture but that didn't really happen in this book. I'm just too literal for these types of books.
Carole Rae
Apr 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Amy Sturgis
Feb 19, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a very important novel to read - the first novel by an American Indian author to be honored with the Pulitzer Prize, a work that helped to inspire a new renaissance in Native American literature - and yet reading it isn't a pleasure. Part of this is intentional: the story of Abel, a (perpetually drunken) World War II veteran returning to his reservation and failing to readjust to life there is gritty, lumbering, and genuinely uncomfortable.

Momaday presents the story as a loosely themati
Christopher Rex
Sep 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Virginia Arthur
May 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I actually read this decades ago. This is another classic and a poignant and sad profile of what happens when you strip an entire culture of people of their land and their culture. Unlike the Western European culture which only exploits land to sell it and make money off it like any other product, the LAND was an extension of the BODY of the Native American. Cutting them off from their land was like cutting off a leg, or was the land that gave them their identity, tethered them to their ...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

Philip Palios
I enjoyed reading "House Made of Dawn" and found that it not only offered deep insights, but I was also able to connect with it on an emotional level. Rather than philosophical or cerebral, Momaday masterfully conveys complex themes by simply writing the surface-level events, observations and interactions. I found it refreshing to be free of the voices within the character's heads. At the same time, it can be challenging to fully comprehend everything going on.

Before writing a thorough review,
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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...
“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.” 27 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.” 22 likes
More quotes…