A moving and deeply engaging debut novel about a young Native American man finding strength in his familial identity, from a stellar new voice in fiction.
Told in a series of voices, Calling for a Blanket Dance takes us into the life of Ever Geimausaddle through the multigenerational perspectives of his family as they face myriad obstacles. His father’s injury at the hands of corrupt police, his mother's struggle to hold on to her job and care for her husband, the constant resettlement of the family, and the legacy of centuries of injustice all intensify Ever’s bottled-up rage. Meanwhile, all of Ever’s relatives have ideas about who he is and who he should be. His Cherokee grandmother urges the family to move across Oklahoma to find security; his grandfather hopes to reunite him with his heritage through traditional gourd dances; his Kiowa cousin reminds him that he’s connected to an ancestral past. And once an adult, Ever must take the strength given to him by his relatives to save not only himself but also the next generation of family.
How will this young man visualize a place for himself when the world hasn’t given him a place to start with? Honest, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting, Calling for a Blanket Dance is the story of how Ever Geimausaddle found his way to home.
About the Author
Oscar Hokeah is a citizen of Cherokee Nation and the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma from his mother's side and has Latinx heritage through his father. He holds an MA in English with a concentration in Native American Literature from the University of Oklahoma, as well as a BFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), with a minor in Indigenous Liberal Studies. He is a recipient of the Truman Capote Scholarship Award through IAIA and is also a winner of the Native Writer Award through the Taos Summer Writers Conference. His short stories have been published in South Dakota Review, American Short Fiction, Yellow Medicine Review, Surreal South, and Red Ink Magazine. He works with Indian Child Welfare in Tahlequah.
“With intricate prose and unflinching vernacular, Oscar Hokeah chronicles a family and a community. We learn trials and aspirations for each generation, and witness what is woven into complicated arrival. We need these characters and their testimonies. But more than that, we crave –I crave—this kind of honest storytelling. These rhythms. These dances. This beauty. This welcoming to a place where the people speak and are unafraid.”
—Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, author of The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois
“Calling for a Blanket Dance is a stunning novel. Oscar Hokeah writes from deep inside the heart of his communities, bringing life to generations of voices who became so real to me they felt like relatives. The reader can't help but invest in each character as they navigate bitter challenges, sometimes surprising themselves with their strength, their ability to survive and love. Hokeah's prose gorgeously weaves authentic local vernacular with the lyrical notes of hard-won insight. This novel belongs on every recommended booklist for fans of literary fiction.”
—Susan Power, author of The Grass Dancer
“With solid Tommy Orange vibes, the first novel from Oscar Hokeah is a coming-of-age tale told from a chorus of multigenerational voices . . . One to watch, for sure.”
—BookPage, 2022 Preview: Most Anticipated Fiction
“[A] captivating debut… With striking insight into human nature and beautiful prose, this heralds an exciting new voice.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Hokeah offers us a rich tapestry of interconnected narratives, a chorus of distinct voices battling against history, failing bodies, and barren landscapes. We move through decades, fall in love and despair with the Geimaussadle family. The scale and beauty reminds you of One Hundred Years of Solitude set in Oklahoma. Here’s a True American Epic.”
—Gabriel Bump, author of Everywhere You Don’t Belong
“The characters that populate Calling for a Blanket Dance are real, amazing, vulnerable and beautiful in their flaws and, even despair—Oscar Hokeah unveils their suffering and joy, their struggle to live with honor, care for family, walk right. What an accomplishment. Few writers have the courage or craft to pull this off. Hokeah beats the drum and stomps, announcing his power is back, the people have returned with powerful stories. He weaves a tale that is unforgettable and fortifying. I couldn't put the book down.”
—Jimmy Santiago Baca, author of A Place to Stand
“Oscar Hokeah is a storyteller for the ages. Wise and compassionate, Calling for a Blanket Dance is a gift. I couldn’t put it down.”
—Debra Magpie Earling, author of Perma Red
“Filled with astonishing immediacy, and embellished with Hokeah’s authentic voice, these epic stories soar with indelible images of a proud, but challenged, people who find strength through their blood-lines and their enduring familial love. Some characters are so broken and bitter that I was moved to tears. But most characters persevere, and thrive, through the indomitable will and pride of their heritage. Hokeah has accomplished something unique here. In his quietly brilliant depiction of his Cherokee/Kiowa/Mexican heritage he has dipped into his medicine bag and gifted us with a small but compelling masterpiece. This should be required reading for every American.”
—Kiana Davenport, author of Shark Dialogues
“Quaking with age-old righteous anger but nevertheless luminescent with hope.”
“As a plethora of voices accompany Ever Geimausaddle's upbringing, we learn of challenges and resilience, the multilingual language of hope and the grace of forgiveness. Their lives, tender and difficult, full of awe and learning, remind us that the borderlands are fluid regions where families have intermingled, overcome challenges, and danced together for centuries."
—Cristina Rivera Garza, author of Grieving: Dispatches from a Wounded Country
“Oscar Hokeah is the real deal. A new voice with ancient music.”
—Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The House of Broken Angels