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The Hiawatha

A Novel

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


Recently widowed, and encouraged by government relocation schemes to move Native Americans off their reservations, Betty takes her four young children from their Ojibwe roots to make a new life in Minneapolis. As Betty struggles to keep her family and her dignity intact, her younger son Lester finds romance on the soon-to-be-demolished train, The Hiawatha, while his older brother Simon secretly protects his mother by taking a dangerous job as a construction worker, scaling the heights of the skyscrapers that, once completed, will never welcome him.

Twenty years later, Simon is released from prison for a horrible crime of passion. His return to Minneapolis sets in motion the dramatic, inevitable conclusion to one family's ceaseless fight to survive.

An elegy to the American dream, and to the sometimes tragic experience of the Native Americans who helped to build it, The Hiawatha is both a moving portrait of a family, and a fast-paced, page-turning literary mystery of murder and redemption.

David Treuer more than delivers on the promise he displayed in his acclaimed first novel, Little, and confirms his reputation as one of the most talented and original writers of his generation.

From Publishers Weekly

May 03, 1999 – Life delivers a relentless series of devastating blows to three generations of a Native American family in this heartbreaking and harrowing second novel by the author of the praised Little. The story opens when Simon is released from prison, after serving a 10-year sentence for killing his brother Lester in a drunken rage. Simon comes home to South Minneapolis to see his mother, Betty, whose grief and isolation are compounded by bitter memories of her first disastrous loss, her woodsman husband's death in a tree-felling accident. Married at 16, Betty is still in her 20s when Jacob dies, left with four children to support. Simon, who witnessed his father's gruesome death, prematurely becomes the man of the house, getting construction work high above the city. The narrative crosscuts feverishly back and forth in time, each piece of painful family history emerging to clarify previously murky allusions. Treuer gingerly explores Lester's romance with Vera, a white girl, as they find a haven of intimacy in an abandoned wreck of an old train. At Lester's death Vera is pregnant, and she eventually leaves her infant son, Lincoln, with Betty. The uneasy reunion of Lincoln (who is unaware that his uncle killed his father), Betty and the guilt-ridden Simon is edged with fear and suspicion, but by the end of the novel, this turmoil mutates into a ravaging new cycle of despair and destruction. Treuer's powerful, disturbing portrait of one Ojibwe family's struggle with poverty, violence and racism is conveyed in terse prose of driving urgency. Their bleak circumstances render Betty catatonically docile and Simon prey to hair-trigger episodes of violence; neither can cope with the odds of life stacked against them. An assortment of supporting characters are memorable and lighten the protagonists' tragic load. Bluntly effective dialogue lays bare the tough heart of Treuer's brutally compelling saga. Author tour.
The Hiawatha
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  • $3.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Jul 30, 2013
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Seller: Macmillan
  • Print Length: 320 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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