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House Made of Dawn (Perennial Classics) [Paperback]

N. Scott Momaday
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 23, 1999 0060931949 978-0060931940 1st Perennial Classics Ed

House Made of Dawn, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1969, tells the story of a young American Indian named Abel, home from a foreign war and caught between two worlds: one his father's, wedding him to the rhythm of the seasons and the harsh beauty of the land; the other of industrial America, a goading him into a compulsive cycle of dissipation and disgust.

Editorial Reviews


"Superb." -- -- New York Times Book Review

"A new romanticism, with a reverence for the land, a transcendent optimism, and a sense of mythic wholeness...Push[es] the secular mode of modern fiction into the sacred mode, a faith and recognition in the power of the world." -- American Literature

"Almost unbearably authentic and powerful...Anyone who picks up this novel and reads the first paragraph will be hard pressed to put it down." -- Cleveland Plain Dealer

About the Author

N. Scott Momaday is a novelist, a poet, and a painter. Among the awards he has received for writing are the Pulitzer Prize and the Premio Letterario Internazionale "Mondello." He is Regent's Professor of English at the University of Arizona, and he lives in Tucson with his wife and daughter.

Product Details

  • Series: Perennial Classics
  • Paperback: 198 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics; 1st Perennial Classics Ed edition (June 23, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060931949
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060931940
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.3 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #871,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
84 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential work of Native American literature October 23, 2001
"House Made of Dawn," by N. Scott Momaday, is an extraordinary work of American literature. In this book Momaday tells the story of Abel, a Native American whose life journey takes him from the rural world of his ancestors to the harsh urban environment of an American city. Along the way Momaday creates passages of great pain, beauty, and wonder.
Consider the book's opening lines: "Dypaloh. There was a house made of dawn. It was made of pollen and of rain, and the land was very old and everlasting. There were many colors on the hills, and the plain was bright with different colored clays and sands." Prose like this gives the book a timeless, mythic flavor, and is stunningly complemented by naturalistic passages that explore such visceral topics as violence, sexual ecstasy, and alcohol abuse.
Momaday superbly evokes the people, animals, and geography of the rural West. His book also explores the significance of both oral and written cultural traditions. The book features one of the most intriguing characters in 20th century American fiction: The Rev. J.B.B. Tosameh -- "orator, physician, Priest of the Sun, son of Hummingbird" -- in whose character Momaday explores the collision between Christianity and Native American religious traditions.
"House Made of Dawn" has a somewhat fragmented structure. Like William Faulkner, Momaday expects the reader to do some work in assembling the greater story. But such work is rewarding. Recommended as companion texts: "A Son of the Forest and Other Writings," by groundbreaking Pequot Indian author William Apess; and "Mohawk Trail," by Beth Brant, a contemporary author of the Bay of Quinte Mohawk people.
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61 of 67 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful but frustrating prose February 17, 2002
Gorgeous writing about the mystical Indian culture and the personal tragedies that concurred with that culture's demise at the hands of the White Man -- authentic, serene, spiritual and heartbreaking. It's the story of Abel, raised in the old Indian culture by his grandfather and swallowed up by the "white man's" culture as an adult.
While it's beautifully written, this is a very hard book to follow. Momaday moves through time freely and the reader is constantly lost as to where he is and who his characters are and what any of them have to do with each other. He's constantly switching, with nothing more than a paragraph break, from myths and dreams and the present and the past and previously unknown characters that he picks up on mid-stream. There is very little background to the story until the very last chapter, and so if you've stuck it out til then you're rewarded. It all makes much more sense in the end. This is a book that merits two readings -- the first for the experience of its spirituality, the second to fill in the blanks of the story. It's only 200 pages but it took me four days to get through it - it slows you down when you're constantly back tracking trying to figure out what you've missed only to find that you haven't really missed anything - at least not anything that you know of yet. It's written very surreally and it gets a bit frustrating to tell the truth. There is alot to give Momaday credit for here though. It was an interesting experience but not one that would make me go and seek out everything else he's written.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Writing at its Best November 16, 2000
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Momaday's first of two novels (so far!) show any aspiring writer what to aim for. From his opening page to the last, we are treated with an amalgamation of myth, landscape, character and plot, clearly showing how 'author as mythmaker' can be accomplished without being ovedone. I have read this book several times and cannot get over how the land becomes more than setting; it becomes character. The intimate relationship that Momaday has with the southwest is obvious here, and should be a lesson to others who dare write about such sacred places in more superficial ways. Momaday is one of the countries leading writers, the first American Indian to win the Pulitzer prize, and a brilliant scholar. Anyone who has difficulty reading this book, as stated in other reviews here, clearly needs to reassess what one wants from literary fiction. This is not beach literature; he wants you to think and learn, besides understand. His novel structure is fantastic and asks the reader to go back, reread and comprehend. His descriptions of landscapes alone are worthy of many readings of this terrific novel.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Severe March 3, 2000
By A Customer
N. Scott Momaday is one of my favorite authors, and I'm currently working on a semester project centered on his work. I must warn you, this book isn't the one to pick up for a reading assignment the weekend before it's due. The style and structure of all his novels, ESPECIALLY House Made of Dawn, can either create a transcendent experience where words become magic, if digested slowly, or a tedious skimming of very long passages.... His style is very original and does not set out to impress and entrap; it's beauty happening, and if you want to join it, you can, but don't expect it to stop and rest for you. I think this isn't always so true in Momaday's work, therefore I would recommend those new to him to check out The Ancient Child (my absolute favorite and his best work in my opinion) first. Don't expect to be completely done with this particular book after the first reading, though.For those very curious about Momaday, this should not be the starting point. For those familiar with him already,the style here is very different from things like The Way to Rainy Mountain and the Names, it's more severe. The book is divided in time sets, and it uses stream-of-consciousness in a massive way in certain parts...the main character, Abel, will not be a hero or somebody who stirs sympathy. The construction of the book is just as broken and stark as he is, but his New Mexican days are only some shards of the story; the time in Los Angeles is just as silent and inexplicable. Murder, sex, acculturation, and loss are just things that emerge and submerge without prediction and focus in this book, but not in a crass way; rather, in a very severe and hopeless (but not fatalistic or frantic) way. The book has many layers, and the one just described is not the one I chose to focus on. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
This is a beautiful work. Mr. Momaday really has a gift of painting such realistic images. I loved this book
Published 2 months ago by Gail Henley
5.0 out of 5 stars On losing and rediscovering who you
A Native American is brought up on a reservation where he has learned the myth and beauty of his culture secure in his being. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ann Ahnemann
5.0 out of 5 stars Prolific writing
I would compare my new found love for this book as when I picked up Catcher in the Rye in my youth. Momaday captures human moments that are beautiful and sincere. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Thomas James Reed
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
Hard to read if you're tender hearted, as the protagonist is a young Native American caught in alcoholism after war and a move to the city. Read more
Published 3 months ago by andre
1.0 out of 5 stars Had it for class
I thought it was so boring, I kept reading expecting something to happen and it is just confusing and bland. Read more
Published 4 months ago by genaro
5.0 out of 5 stars This is one of our great American writers!
This is a lyrical novel, yet also gritty and intense. Scott Momaday is justly recognized as a great writer of our times. His Ancient Child, another novel, is also great. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars More a literary man than Kiowa
A while back a teacher and friend asked me: “What I wonder is, to what extent is Momaday a man of words on account of his adherence to his Kiowa side (the way Stegner adhered to... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Tribe fan
1.0 out of 5 stars Bad read
It's like reading the mutant spawn of Sherman Alexie and Charles Bukowski. I must admit, I didn't understand anything Monaday was trying to communicate.
Published 6 months ago by Duane
3.0 out of 5 stars House Made of Dawn
This book was actually part of my college reading list. It is a very interesting read especially how different how class lectures are. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars House Made of Yawn
If you want a book with rambling narration, an overemphasis on description, and no real plot to speak of, then this is the book for you. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Percival Constantine
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