Shapes of Native Nonfiction: Collected Essays by Contemporary Writers

Just as a basket's purpose determines its materials, weave, and shape, so too is the purpose of the essay related to its material, weave, and shape. Editors Elissa Washuta and Theresa Warburton ground this anthology of essays by Native writers in the formal art of basket weaving. Using weaving techniques such as coiling and plaiting as organizing themes, the editors have curated an exciting collection of imaginative, world-making lyric essays by twenty-seven contemporary Native writers from tribal nations across Turtle Island into a well-crafted basket.

Shapes of Native Nonfiction features a dynamic combination of established and emerging Native writers, including Stephen Graham Jones, Deborah Miranda, Terese Marie Mailhot, Billy-Ray Belcourt, Eden Robinson, and Kim TallBear. Their ambitious, creative, and visionary work with genre and form demonstrate the slippery, shape-changing possibilities of Native stories. Considered together, they offer responses to broader questions of materiality, orality, spatiality, and temporality that continue to animate the study and practice of distinct Native literary traditions in North America.

"The first collection of Native nonfiction organized with the explicit intent of highlighting Native writing as world-making. This book offers us nonfiction that reflects, interrogates, critiques, imagines, prays, screams, and complicates simplistic notions about Native peoples and Native lives."―Malea Powell, professor and chair, Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures, and faculty in American Indian and Indigenous studies, Michigan State University

"Shapes of Native Nonfiction is exciting, fresh, and profound. It provides the space for native nonfiction to be indigenous, without the pressure to "perform" indigeneity. The writing gets to be weird, joyful, wounded, flip, deep, unflinching, terrified, and secure. Expression over cultural expectation. I turn to it and return to it, delighted each time."―Tommy Pico

 

 

Reviews

"It’s not hard to imagine this work as a staple of creative writing course syllabi for years to come. A must for any library." ―LIBRARY JOURNAL

"This book is a feat. You have to read it to believe it." ―BITCH

"The medium is the message in this formally daring anthology of essays from Native writers." ―ESQUIRE

"In this anthology, shape matters. It turns the essay into a resistant form, pushing against the myth of the 'disappearing Native' and asserting a new narrative, one that isn't subject to colonizing. . . . Shapes of Native Nonfiction is full of cognitive and emotional work. It turns the essay into something alive and breathing." ―CINCINNATI REVIEW

 

Interviews

Essay Daily, with Maddie Norris and Ander Monson, July 8, 2019

PEN America, with Lily Philpott, July 4, 2019