Introduction (Critical Survey of Short Fiction, Second Revised Edition)
According to the conventional criteria used by literary scholars to define short fiction, the contributions of Native Americans to this genre are relatively recent. A consensus among commentators familiar with the field is that N. Scott Momaday’s novel House Made of Dawn (1968) marked the beginning of a new phase of cultural expression in which First Nation people joined other ethnic groups in finding publishers for their writing. As Leslie Marmon Silko, whose novel Ceremony (1977) has been called the first written by a Native American woman, puts it somewhat sardonically, “the ignorant Anglo-Americans that suddenly let us publish our books” realized the growing interest in Native Americans had commercial possibilities. As Silko, in consort with many other accomplished First Nation novelists, has contended, this emergence into print is the latest and hardly most significant phase of a tradition of storytelling that reaches back to what might be called the dawn of human time. “From generation to generation the people had been telling stories,” Silko explains, “and Scott Momaday could not have written the book if it not had been for the careful nurturing, for the care of the stories and his old grandmother he talks about.” As she states in Ceremony:
I will tell you something about stories,[he said]They...
(The entire section is 337 words.)
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