I had a mixed reaction to this book. The writing is beautiful, especially the opening chapters, but I was staggered by the level of bias against gay men in the plot of the book. I also felt a little uncomfortable with the naivete of the main character and the calques created by literal translations of Lakota phrases into English, to make his thinking feel more foreign.
"Powerful...An engaging, pointed, heartfelt examination of culture clash and the debilitating effects of otherness." San Francisco Examiner
Praised by writers including Sherman Alexie, Leslie Marmon Silko, Annie Dillard and Kent Haruf, The Heartsong of Charging Elk will stand alongside James Welch's award-winning Fools Crow as a classic of Native American Literature.
Richly imagined from historical facts, this is a novel of culteral crossing, as Charging Elk, an Oglala Sioux, joins Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, journeying from the Black Hills of South Dakota to the back streets of ninetheenth-century France. Left bewhind in Marseille while the show travels on, Charging Elk is forced to remake his life alone in a strange land. He adapts as well as he can, holding on to the memories and traditions of life on the Plains and eventually falling in love. But none of the worlds the Indian has known can prepare him for the betrayal that follows. At once epic and intimate, the Heartsong of Charging Elk is a triumph of storytelling and the historical imagination that echoes across time, geography and cultures.
Based on a true story, the novel tells of a young Lakota man, travelling with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in Europe, who is separated from the show by illness and a bureaucratic tangle. He remains in France, and holds on to his own innocent core. The novel flags when the focus moves away from Charging Elk, but is richly plotted and moving nontheless.
Excellent fictional treatment of historical places and scenarios.
Charging Elk, an Oglala Sioux, joins Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, and travels to Europe.
He is left behind in France, and must rehape his life to his new surroundings.
Richly imagined from historical fact, this novel tells the story of Charging Elk, an Oglala Sioux, who joins Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, journeying from the Black Hills of South Dakota to the back streets of 19th century France. Left behind in Marseille, he is forced to remake his life alone in a strange land. This book is an enlightening and perceptive view of European/American culture from the perspective of a native American "indien" caught up in that world against his will.
Imagined from historical fact this book follws the life of Charging Elk and Ogalala Sioux who journeys with the Buffalo Bill show from South Dakota to France. He takes sick and then is left behind by the show in a strange land. Great Read.