When it was first published in 1968, N. Scott Momaday’s House Made of Dawn garnered scarce critical and commercial attention. Yet within a year, it won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and had received international critical acclaim.
During the early 1970s America became interested in the plight of Native Americans as the truth about reservation life was exposed and publicized by Native American activists. By chronicling the struggles of a young Native American man named Abel, Momaday was able to explore some of the issues and conflicts that faced the Native American community in the 20th century. House Made of Dawn was a crucial link in teaching the general public about the real lives and beliefs of Native Americans.
Although most critics admire the poetic beauty of his narrative style, Momaday’s indirect way of storytelling-weaving together past, present, and myth with no apparent order-may prove challenging to some readers who are used to a linear progression of events. Most critics, however, consider this style necessary for understanding Abel and his culture.