Each day leading up to the April 17 announcement of the 22nd Annual Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today, we feature
2009 Memoir & Creative Nonfiction finalist,
The Wolf at Twilight: An Indian Elder’s Journey through a Land of Ghosts and Shadows
NEW WORLD LIBRARY
Excerpt from an interview with Kent Nerburn:
“I prefer to think of The Wolf at Twilight as a teaching story. Dan once said to me, ‘People learn best by stories, because stories lodge deep in the heart.’ I wanted to tell a story that would lodge deep in the reader’s heart, and would do so in a way that reveals some of the dark truths of Native experience while giving voice to the bright truths that Native reality contains.” – Kent Nerburn
Suspenseful, touching, humorous, tragic, and powerful are just a few of the words that could be used to describe Kent Nerburn’s captivating story of his journey to help an elderly Native American man, Dan, discover what happened to his long lost sister. Nerburn is able to bring to light the complicated friendship between a white American and a Lakota Indian, and the reader is allowed a private and extraordinary glimpse into the life and wisdom of a tribal elder.
Kent Nerburn has written a dozen books on spirituality and Native themes. The Wolf at Twilight is a follow-up to his 1994 award-winning classic, Neither Wolf Nor Dog. His book Chief Joseph and the Flight of the Nez Perce was featured on the History Channel. Nerburn first became interested in Native American spirituality when volunteering on the Red Lake Ojibwe reservations, helping students collect memories of their tribal elders.
Nerburn is a father to four children. He and his wife live in northern Minnesota, “where on good days we can listen to the whispering of the birches and the cries of the loons on the lake, and on bad days we huddle against -40 degree temperatures and winds swirling like banshees outside our window.”
“The story of the author’s experience with Dan, the Indian Elder, is written as if it were a mystery. Facts about the Native American culture and history are mixed into the mystery of what happened to Dan’s little sister, Yellow Bird. The author provides details of how poorly the Native Americans were treated, and their experiences in boarding school and churches. Dan’s perspective of how much has been taken away from the Native Americans is well presented, as is his urgency to keep the younger members aware of their culture.” – Minnesota Book Awards Judge
“The story of this unique and captivating journey…is a remarkable gift that we are honored to receive and obligated to pass on.” – Steven R. Heape, Cherokee Nation citizen and producer of the award-winning documentary, “The Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy”
“The best storytellers make you feel that they are speaking directly to you, and the best-told stories resonate in the heart and soul forever. A story about the triumph of love and the spirit of a people…, The Wolf at Twilight will be permanently etched in your consciousness.” – Dan Agent, former editor of The Cherokee Phoenix and screenwriter for “Our Spirits Don’t Speak English: Indian Boarding School”
“The Wolf at Twilight touched me like few books ever have. It connected me viscerally to a reality I had only been aware of at an intellectual level, the near genocidal horrors of the forced Indian boarding schools of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Nerburn’s writing was sparse but powerful and utterly believable. What made the book work so well for me was how he wrote with such honesty as a white person who cared deeply for the American Indian people in his life and their culture but was not himself a “wannabe” or an Indian Studies professional. I’ve given several copies of The Wolf at Twilight to friends and feel it should be read by all who are puzzled by or critical of the way Native Americans just don’t seem to be able to fit in to contemporary American culture.” – Lennie Major, Mounds View, MN
Award winners will be announced at the 22nd Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 17, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in downtown Saint Paul. The opening reception begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. Tickets are $40 and are available by clicking here or calling 651-222-3242.
Have you read The Wolf at Twilight? What are your thoughts? Did you vote for the Readers’ Choice Award? We welcome your comments!