Shapes of Native Nonfiction
Editors: Elissa Washuta and Theresa Warburton
Publisher: University of Washington Press (2019)
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.
"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."
"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