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The Beadworkers

Stories

List Price: $23.00

October 22, 2019 | Hardcover | 5.7 x 8.4, 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 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 propelled to its front lines. 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 and filled with vibrant characters, The Beadworkers draws on Indigenous aesthetics and forms to offer a powerful, sustaining vision of Native life.

About Beth Piatote

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 the University of California, Berkeley. She lives in the Bay Area with her two children.

Praise

Praise for The Beadworkers

Long-listed for the 2020 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection
Long-listed for the 2020 Aspen Words Literary Prize
Long-listed for the 2019 Northern California Golden Poppy Book Award in Fiction
One of the Chicago Review of Books's Best Books of the Month

NYLON, 1 of 15 New Books to Read This Month
Literary Hub, 1 of 10 New Books You Should Be Reading This Week

"Provocative . . . [A] richly layered debut short story collection . . . A collection that gives voice to what is so often left unsaid." --San Francisco Chronicle

"Piatote is Nez Perce, and a Native American Studies professor at UC Berkeley. In this eloquent and elucidating debut story collection she brings the Native experience to life--from the long line of broken treaties and the tragic effect on Native tribes from coast to coast to contemporary repercussions from forced attendance at Indian boarding schools . . . Piatote draws the reader in with spare and perceptive language and resonate empathy for each struggling yet resilient character." --Booklist

"Piatote's debut collection mixes poetry, verse, and prose to form an impressive reflection on the lives of modern Native Americans. Piatote, a Nez Perce enrolled with the Colville Confederated Tribes, fits much nuance and profundity into stories that often reflect on the ways in which contemporary mainstream American culture continues to erase the identities and traditions of indigenous groups . . . This beautiful collection announces Piatote as a writer to watch." --Publishers Weekly

"Hope and heartbreak abound in this debut collection set among Native Americans in the northwest . . . Piatote balances the emotional complexities of her characters' lives with the political complexity of their relationship with an America all too eager to look away. A poignant and challenging look at the way the past and present collide." --Kirkus Reviews

"This stunning debut collection marks the arrival of a brilliant storyteller; Beth Piatote weaves together political, historical, and personal themes to offer new perspectives on the human condition . . . Piatote, who is Nez Perce, writes with dazzling clarity, emotion, and bone-dry humor about the lives of indigenous people, in what feels like a celebration, an act of love, and one of the most unforgettable story collections of the year." --Kristin Iversen, NYLON, 1 of the 34 Books You'll Want to Read This Fall

"Gripping and utterly readable . . . The stories here are wide-ranging but encompass many perspectives of Indigenous people in North America." --Literary Hub, 1 of 12 Books by Indigenous Writers to Read This Indigenous Peoples Day

"The short story collection The Beadworkers mixes prose, poetry, and verse to create a rich tapestry of Native-American cultural heritage. There is a sparseness to Beth Piatote's prose that belies the depth of her chosen subject and the long, complicated history of American Indian Law. Hers is a language that pulls you along and manages to convey both the troubling injustice faced by Native peoples in this country and a sense of joy and celebration, especially when she is writing about the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, the lyricism of the Nez Perce language, or the power of kinship." --Carrie V. Mullins, Electric Literature

"This exceptional debut collection is as accessible as it is experimental. The Beadworkers combines poetry and prose in a set of Native American stories that decolonize the short story form while mastering it." --Book Riot, 1 of 4 Contemporary Collections to Make You a Believer in the Short Story

"Beth Piatote strings together stories like the intricate strands of a handmade necklace. The Beadworkers gathers those strings together into an illustrious whole. Piatote, who is Nez Perce and an associate professor of Native American studies, has previously written both scholarly and creative works. She brings her expertise to the page with this collection, where individual pieces often defy genre labels . . . The collected pieces of The Beadworkers explore place and identity in vibrant scenes. Throughout, Piatote reveals Native American life in contexts modern, historic and mythical." --Carla Jean Whitley, BookPage

"Beth Piatote's The Beadworkers incorporates Indigenous themes into a unique, compelling vision of Native life in the Americas . . . Through her witty, dynamic prose, Piatote finds themes in family, longing and return that speak to us all." --Marin Magazine

"The pieces in The Beadworkers are stories of the Native Northwest, exploring the inventive and unforgettable pattern of Native American life in the contemporary world." --Teague Bohlen, Westworld

"The Beadworkers is a feast of wit and storytelling. I read it once to see where Piatote would go next. Twice to savor the emotional, cultural, and structural resonance of this wonderful work." --Louise Erdrich, author of The Night Watchman

"Beth Piatote's debut collection is smart, layered, and inventive. This is a profound and humorous meditation on Native families, language, and life. It is braided, and beaded, and true." --Tommy Orange, author of There There

"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

"Beth Piatote's marvelous debut short story collection explores crossroads in the lives of unforgettable Indigenous characters within urban, suburban, rural and reservation settings, both past and present . . . The Beadworkers is an intricate and poignant set of meditations on how to move forward with identity and hope intact while reconciling with loss, both collective and personal." --Erin Keane and Ashlie D. Stevens, Salon

"A debut collection of short stories set in the Northwest, exploring the inventive and unforgettable pattern of Native American life in the contemporary world." --Shelf Talk Blog, The Seattle Public Library

"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]

"The Beadworkers is an essential celebration of language, kinship, and the enduring power of story. In an exhilarating diversity of voices and literary forms, and with extraordinary heart and artistic precision, this book moves, teaches, and surprises. Beth Piatote is a writer to cherish and trust." --David Chariandy, author of I've Been Meaning to Tell You

"Beth Piatote's incisive debut eschews the boundaries of genre so as to paint a polyphonic image of Indigenous life past and present. The Beadworkers reveals a writer who deeply understands the norms that govern Indigenous aesthetics, a writer who navigates the choppy waters of representation expertly, nuancing and complicating as she goes with an intellectual and narrative bravery that inspires. This is an important addition to a new wave of Indigenous writing in North America!" --Billy-Ray Belcourt, author of NDN Coping Mechanisms and This Wound is a World

"A stunning collection of creative work that moves dynamically through cycles of emergence and return. Beth Piatote does indeed offer us a feast, an abundant and bittersweet stew that arises from Indigenous languages, in the midst of regeneration and the shackling entanglements of American Indian Law. The poetry is a decolonial song, giving voice to the fierce powers of relationality and revitalization, which resonates like the rivers that resist and transcend colonial dams. The short stories are woven from the delicate yet enduring threads formed in response to and despite colonial ruptures, a beautiful, honest rendering of the complexity of human relationships, their gaps, openings, and returns. The drama, a contemporary captivity narrative of repatriation, is an Indigenous epic for the twenty-first century. Antíkoni is beautifully crafted and potent with irony--the powerful voices of Native women arise in dialogue and debate, teaching vital lessons about law, morality, and power, which are starkly needed in our world, now." --Lisa Brooks, author of Our Beloved Kin

"I loved it! It was like an adventure into Indian Thinking. Beth Piatote weaves characters, myths, emotions, and elements together like she is weaving a fine Plateau cornhusk bag. The stories engage your senses, emotions, and memories like a trip to the reservation. I knew I wanted to read this book again before I was even halfway through! I could feel the wind from the river, and I could smell the fragrance of freshly picked huckleberries on a warm summer day by reading her words and going to her places in the book. I could identify with some characters, and other familiar characters resounded with me to the point that it felt like this book was written just for me. I think a lot of people could get that feeling from reading this book." --Marcus Amerman, traditional beadworker

Praise for Domestic Subjects

"In a richly nuanced and historically informed interpretation, Beth Piatote offers a series of revelatory readings that suture the political world of law and policy with the imaginative cultural world of texts and stories. Engaged . . . analytically around domesticity and gender, and written in clear, often beautiful prose, Domestic Subjects will be an important touchstone in contemporary Native American literary studies." --Philip Deloria, author of Playing Indian

"Piatote's luminous readings display both force and subtlety. She brings American legal and cultural patterns into sharper focus by opening up the achievements of indigenous American writers who were resourceful cultural critics as well as accomplished creative actors. This exciting book is one of the best arguments I have seen for a more inclusive and interdisciplinary literary history of the United States. It is a great and welcome pleasure to read what Piatote has to say, along with the writers she represents." --Laura Wexler, Yale University

"In an interdisciplinary tour de force, Piatote demonstrates that Indian wars are wars on Indian family structures, with consequences for all: including Mormons, gays, immigrants, middle-class white men and women. Domestic Subjects illuminates and deepens our understanding of a shared human world." --Tsianina Lomawaima, author of To Remain an Indian: Lessons in Democracy from a Century of Native American Education

"Piatote offers an original and luminous reading of literary works by Native American writers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries whose narratives 'illuminate and contest the force of federal Indian law and policy.' This is a must read." --N. Bruce Duthu, Dartmouth College

"Careful, thoughtful, innovative, and deeply engaging, this book reveals how Indigenous writers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries creatively resisted assimilation and the war on Native American families by crafting dynamic alternatives to colonialism's narrow vision. Piatote's work is simply brilliant." --John Borrows, University of Minnesota Law School

"Deftly weaving together analyses of literature, law, history, and gender, Beth Piatote elegantly documents how the Indigenous home became the primary site of struggle for Indigenous families against the forces of U.S. and Canadian domestication in the assimilation era." --Margaret D. Jacobs, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

"Beth Piatote's Domestic Subjects wonderfully explores the ambivalences, difficulties, and possibilities of living through the state-organized assault on Native peoples in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, offering readings that powerfully attend to the affective life of settler colonialism." --Mark Rifkin, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

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