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Okla Hannali

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  136 ratings  ·  18 reviews
"This curious and wonderful tall tale contributes to the apocalyptic revision of American history that began with Little Big Man and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. It’s the tale of Hannali Innominee, a ’Mingo’ or natural lord of the 19th-century Choctaw Indian [and] a capacious, indomitable giant of the ilk of Paul Bunyan....Lafferty tells it straight: how the Choctaw nati ...more
Paperback, 242 pages
Published October 15th 1991 by University of Oklahoma Press (first published 1972)
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Average rating 4.21  · 
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 ·  136 ratings  ·  18 reviews


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Lisa Lieberman
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is my first book of Lafferty's, recommended by my friend Martin. Opening it, I was immediately immersed in the world of the Choctaw storyteller who narrates the history of the Indians' destruction, over the course of the nineteenth century. The tragedy is always foremost, and yet the tale is not so much a funeral elegy as a joyful remembrance of the life of these peoples, in all its wondrous contradictions.

Lafferty, a white man of Irish heritage, grew up in Oklahoma and served in the South
...more
Martin
Sep 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This can be taken as a blanket recommendation of R.A. Lafferty en bloc, but the historical novel Okla Hannali is certainly among his best. It tells the story of the extended family of Hannali Innominee from the trail of tears during the administration of the 'devil of the Indians', Andrew Jackson, to the end of the 19th century. Vivid, funny, stark and tragic all at once. I had a longer review of this that I managed to lose, so I'm posting this as soon as I can before I backtrack and lose this o ...more
Ivan Stoner
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it

A core element of this sort of quasi-anthropological fiction is offering the reader a visceral sense of another time and another culture. Ulysses does it for Dublin in 1904, Mary Renault does it for Ancient Greece, Patrick O'Brian for the Napoleonic-era Royal Navy. It's a history that involves not cataloging of events, or detachedly describing what That Age involved, but rather conveying through a personalized account what a different time and way of thinking were like on an experiential level.
...more
Daniel Petersen
Aug 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
No time for a real review. Read it this past summer and only just realized I'd never updated this reading status on Goodreads. I'm writing a little about the novel in a paper for English Literature right now, comparing it (and Lafferty's short stories 'Narrow Valley', 'Smoe and the Implicit Clay', and 'Days of Grass, Days of Straw') with Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian as regards their respective ecological visions.

I'm actually glad I didn't rate it right away because I might have given it four
...more
Kevin
Dec 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Took me a while to get into this book as it wasn't quite what I expected it to be. There was not a central plot point to the book that I latched onto, which is usually the hook to keep me coming back for more day after day. As such, it took me two months to get through this shortish book.

It read more like a series of short stories, not even always in chronological order. Many of the stories did not strengthen the main characters or seem to move the story along. But they were entertaining, none-t
...more
Peter Tillman
Jul 24, 2016 rated it did not like it
I started reading Okla Hannali after a writer-friend told me it was one of his favorite Lafferty books. I grew up in Oklahoma, I'm part Cherokee, I'm sympathetic to what he's trying to do, and I like most of Lafferty's stuff. But I didn't get far with this one. It's written as a pseudo-historical tall-tale, in what purports to be Choctaw conversational style, which comes across as, well, gibberish. I couldn't get interested in the characters or their story. Caveat lector.

For a successful novel a
...more
Marty
Dec 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Written as part history, part myth this book engages the reader throughout. Lafferty employs an interesting writing style, changing the readers' perspective on events to align with the characters personalities. Though not as critical of the Trail of Tears as I was expecting, both the miseries and the triumphs of the displacement are described in a manner not seen in the history books.
Ellen
Jan 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Okala Hannali is by R.A. Lafferty, known for his science fiction. This is an historical novel about the epic life journey of a Choctaw man born about 1800. This is my new favorite book.
Patrick Pottorff
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is the best novel I have read in a long while. It's best described as the antithesis of Blood Meridian. Similar subject matter and time period... but humanistic and earthy where that book was nihilistic and pretentious.

Lafferty's prose is simultaneously poetic, coy and mythic. There is humor, even in the dark moments. Actually especially in the dark moments. And ultimately it is a tragedy. Yet who knew that a book about the elimination of a civilization could be so fully of joy and vigor?
William Korn
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Until now, my experience of R.A. Lafferty has encompassed his science fiction, mainly his short stories. Those were wild, strange, outrageous, whimsical, often satirical, and usually extremely funny. I stumbled across this novel completely by accident, and I'm so glad I did.

Set mainly in the "Indian Territories" (which eventually became Oklahoma), this historical novel tells of the rise and fall of the Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, and other tribes exiled from the South in the early 1800s and se
...more
Dan'l Danehy-oakes
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a weird book, even by Lafferty standards.

At one level, it is a true story. That is, it is the true - as true as an Oklahoma white man could get - story of the Choctaw nation from around 1800 to 1900, including the great removal, the civil war, the destruction of the Native American (Lafferty, writing in the early '70s, says "Indian") peoples, and a great deal more. It is carefully, deeply, and exactingly researched - as far as I can tell. Certainly it has been praised by NA people for it
...more
Kevin
Oct 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Okla Hannali is one of the most important books in American literature. It tells the story of the Choctaw Indians from roughly 1800 to roughly 1900, encompassing their social structure in Mississippi at the beginning of the 19th century, the Trail of Tears and the removal to "Indian Territory" (modern day Oklahoma), the rebuilding and regrowth of their society after the Trail of Tears, and their near extinction during the Civil War. It tells all of these stories through the life of Hannali Inomi ...more
Matt
Jul 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This was a really great book with lots of vivid characters, language, and humor. While it does tell the story of the titular Hannali, the book also sets his life against the backdrop of 19th century US history, with particular emphasis on the removal of Native Americans from the Southeast and their relocation to Oklahoma. This well-crafted combination of fact and fiction makes all of the events in the novel more poignant and sad at times, given the reality of what actually happened. Still, the t ...more
Danielle
Jun 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was a really enjoyable mixture of tall tale and straight-forward history (of the removal of the Choctow Nation to the Indian Territory). Hannali Innominee's life sounds less fantastical than the actions of the US government. Despite the seriousness of the subject the book is actually really humorous in many sections. I loved the oral history feel of some of the anecdotes and I think it's pretty clever to utilize the tall tale from the perspective of the Native Americans.
Ryan Petty
Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is an extraordinary historical novel of the Choctaw and Cherokee removal to Indian Territory. Lafferty was a very good science fiction writer who lived and worked in Tulsa. This is one of only 2 historical novels he wrote. I'm well versed in the history of Indian Territory / Oklahoma, and often recommend this book personally.
Helen
Dec 06, 2019 rated it liked it
A personalized telling of some very grim chapters in US history Like a saga, but heartbreaking.
siejay
Apr 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thegood_s_tuf_f
Lafferty's take on the displacement of Choctaw, Cherokee, Seminole, and others to "Indian Territory", told through a life of a 19th century Choctaw named Hannali.
Sascha Benjamin Cohen
rated it it was amazing
Sep 02, 2013
Matthew Jackson
rated it it was ok
Jul 04, 2013
Makz
rated it it was amazing
Dec 01, 2019
William Maynard
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Sep 28, 2016
Ishmael Ahmed
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May 02, 2011
Odd Magnus
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Jan 18, 2019
John
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Aug 29, 2014
Paul
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Feb 07, 2013
Jeff
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Jan 06, 2009
AustinT
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Jul 30, 2015
Michelynn McKnight
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Aug 31, 2015
Fred
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Feb 06, 2008
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Nov 02, 2008
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Raphael Aloysius Lafferty, published under the name R.A. Lafferty, was an American science fiction and fantasy writer known for his original use of language, metaphor, and narrative structure, as well as for his etymological wit. He also wrote a set of four autobiographical novels, a history book, and a number of novels that could be loosely called historical fiction.

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“There are certain men who are sacrosanct in history; you touch on the truth of them at your peril. These are such men as Socrates and Plato, Pericles and Alexander, Caesar and Augustus, Marcus Aurelius and Trajan, Martel and Charlemagne, Edward the Confessor and William of Falaise, St. Louis and Richard and Tancred, Erasmus and Bacon, Galileo and Newton, Voltaire and Rousseau, Harvey and Darwin, Nelson and Wellington. In America, Penn and Franklin, Jefferson and Jackson and Lee. There are men better than these who are not sacrosanct, who may be challenged freely. But these men may not be. Albert Pike has been elevated to this sacrosanct company, though of course to a minor rank. To challenge his rank is to be overwhelmed by a torrent of abuse, and we challenge him completely.

Looks are important to these elevated. Albert Pike looked like Michelangelo's Moses in contrived frontier costume. Who could distrust that big man with the great beard and flowing hair and godly glance?
If you dislike the man and the type, then he was pompous, empty, provincial and temporal, dishonest, and murderous. But if you like the man and the type, then he was impressive, untrammeled, a man of the right place and moment, flexible or sophisticated, and firm.
These are the two sides of the same handful of coins.
He stole (diverted) Indian funds and used them to bribe doubtful Indian leaders. He ordered massacres of women and children (exemplary punitive operations). He lied like a trooper (he was a trooper). He effected assassinations (removal of semi-military obstructions). He forged names to treaties (astute frontier politics). He was part of a weird plot by men of both the North and South to extinguish the Indians whoever should win the war (devotion to the ideal of national growth ) . He personally arranged twelve separate civil wars among the Indians (the removal of the unfit) . After all, those were war years; and he did look like Moses, and perhaps he sounded like him.”
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