the grass dancer

Susan Power       Pages: 300        Published: 1994

The book: The year is 1864, in the Sioux tribal lands of North Dakota. Ghost Horse, a handsome young heyo’ka, (sacred clown), falls in love with Red Dress. But Red Dress has been given a mission by the tribal spirits and must leave. What is it that Red Dress must do? Will she and Ghost Horse ever be together? This is their story and the story of how their lives rippled down through time and impacted generations of their families.

You might like it because: It’s a wonderful story that twists and turns through time, connecting Red Dress and Ghost Horse to the past and the present.  It’s beautifully written and the reader quickly becomes immersed in the lives of the characters.

What did other people say?
“‘We were victims of utter faith’, says Red Dress, and so too are most of the characters in this powerful and beautifully written novel…that it is Power’s first novel only makes it the more remarkable.” – The Times (UK)

“Susan Power….has written a first novel that hums with serious intention and reads like a sad and lovely lament. The high plains reservation setting is rendered with the kind of authentic realism—the little but crucial details—that only the most acute observer notices, and her prose is both strong and lyrical.”- Los Angeles Times

Awards & Recognition:
Winner of the Hemmingway Foundation/PEN Award

How quickly will you get into the book? From the first paragraph I was hooked and had to keep reading.

You might not like it because: The book begins in the 1970s, works backward in time to 1864, and then ends in the early 1980s. The story is told by different characters and from different points of view as we move through time. This can make keeping track of who is who and where you are in the story difficult at times.

What might you read next?
In an interview I found online, Susan Power said that Louise Erdrich was one of her favorite authors. You could read her novel Love Medicine.

Or if you’d like to discover some other native writers, pick up the anthology Talking Leaves Contemporary Native American Short Stories, edited by Craig Lesley.

© 2018