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The Beadworkers


List Price: $23.00

ON SALE: October 22, 2019 | Hardcover | 5.5 x 8.25, 208 pages  | ISBN 9781640092686
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Beth Piatote’s luminous debut collection opens with a feast, grounding its stories in the landscapes and lifeworlds of the Native Northwest, exploring the inventive and unforgettable pattern of Native American life in the contemporary world.

Told with humor, subtlety, and beautiful spareness, the mixed-genre works of Beth Piatote’s first collection find unifying themes in the strength of kinship, the pulse of longing, and the language of return.

A woman teaches her niece to make a pair of beaded earrings, while ruminating on a fractured relationship. An eleven-year-old girl narrates the unfolding of the Fish Wars in the 1960s, as her family is gradually drawn to the front lines of the conflict. In 1890, as tensions escalate at Wounded Knee, two young men at college, one French and the other Lakota, each contemplate a death in the family. In the final, haunting piece, a Nez Perce/ Cayuse family is torn apart as they debate the fate of ancestral remains in a moving revision of the Greek tragedy Antigone.

Formally inventive, witty, and generous, the works in this singular debut collection draw on Indigenous aesthetics and forms to offer a powerful, sustaining vision of Native life in the Americas.

BETH PIATOTE is a writer and scholar. She is Nez Perce from Chief Joseph’s Band and is an enrolled member of the Colville Confederated Tribes. She holds a PhD from Stanford University and is currently an associate professor at UC Berkeley. She lives in the Bay Area with her two children.


Praise for The Beadworkers

“Beth Piatote has created a ritual of clarity, transformation, and wonder. Elegant and vivid, her book is alive, and it will make its readers see the world in a bright new light. I can’t recommend it highly enough.” —Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The House of Broken Angels

The Beadworkers is beautifully crafted with indigenous storytelling techniques and narrative designs. Throughout, Beth Piatote renders Native American life in all its emotional complexity, profound tragedy, subversive humor, and transformative resilience. After the final drum beat, this book becomes an offering to ancestors, a feast of words, and a water song flowing across generations.” —Craig Santos Perez, author of from unincorporated territory [lukao]

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