Told in a series of voices, Calling for a Blanket Dance takes us into the life of Ever Geimausaddle through the multigenerational perspectives of his family as they face myriad obstacles. His father's injury at the hands of corrupt police, his mother's struggle to hold on to her job and care for her husband, the constant resettlement of the family, and the legacy of centuries of injustice all intensify Ever's bottled-up rage. Meanwhile, all of Ever's relatives have ideas about who he is and who he should be. His Cherokee grandmother urges the family to move across Oklahoma to find security; his grandfather hopes to reunite him with his heritage through traditional gourd dances; his Kiowa cousin reminds him that he's connected to an ancestral past. And once an adult, Ever must take the strength given to him by his relatives to save not only himself but also the next generation of family.
Accomplished ... Hokeah's novel not only tells a story that is ultimately uplifting, but also immerses readers in Oklahoma's Kiowa, Cherokee and Mexican communities ... Comparisons to Tommy Orange's There There are inevitable ... In Calling for a Blanket Dance, the writing is just as powerful.
... devastating ... Hokeah’s characters are drawn with such precision and pathos one can forgive some narrators’ meandering (and at times, repetitive) loquacity ... At the heart of Calling for a Blanket Dance is a profound reflection on the intergenerational nature of cultural trauma. Hokeah’s characters exist at the intersection of Kiowa, Cherokee and Mexican identity, which provides a vital exploration of indigeneity in contemporary American letters ... What is most skillful throughout is how Hokeah draws readers to Ever, even when Ever is only seen from the periphery ... Hokeah shows readers that there are many ways to examine pain, and that sometimes, it’s the indirect view that’s the most agonizing.
Hokeah's prose is punchy and descriptive, filled with Native American phrases and words that come naturally to the characters. This blending of languages is still uncommon in contemporary fiction, but the current Indigenous literary and cultural renaissance promises that more and more voices will grow this singularity into a rich multitude.