Critical Context

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Medicine River was published in Canada in 1989 and released in the United States in 1992. It was King’s first novel and was enthusiastically received in both countries. King has since published another novel, Green Grass, Running Water (1993), a more expansive look at many of the same themes and questions that concerned him in his first work of fiction. King’s second novel delves more fully into the visionary potential of the Native American past and present than does Medicine River.

King is now counted as one of the leading contemporary Native American writers. He teaches in the departments of American and Native American Studies at the University of Minnesota. King is a Canadian-born man teaching in the United States whose work centers on a Native American identity common to both countries. In this way, King’s life summarizes the contradictions that animate and nourish the lives of his characters.

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