Please recommend me some more reading material
November 1, 2007 3:51 PM   Subscribe

I got a great response to my previous question, so I thought I'd ask again. I'm looking for some more books to read.

I've been working my way through the list of books you guys created last time, and I've found some real gems. Thank you to those who recommended books.

I have a similar request this time. I'm looking for fiction books about indigenous peoples who live without advanced technology (by which I mean electricity/petroleum and upwards). Peoples like the Inuit, Native Americans, Australian Aborigines, for example. I don't want textbooks full of facts, I want stories based in and around the people, and what their lives are like. Interpersonal relationships are great and so are healing/religious modalities. I don't mind what part of history they're set in.
posted by Solomon to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Clan of the Cave Bear

not so much Indigenous people as prehistoric people.
posted by robotot at 3:56 PM on November 1, 2007

Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O'Dell.
posted by limeonaire at 4:17 PM on November 1, 2007

may not be exactly what you're looking for but, dies the fire is good sci fi. it's about the contemporary world losing all forms of combustion. so basicaly technology as a whole dies out and everyone goes back to more tribal ways.
posted by andywolf at 4:23 PM on November 1, 2007

"the bone people" by keri hulme is supposed to be amazing. i believe it is about an australian living among a tribe in polynesia.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:33 PM on November 1, 2007

the bone people" by keri hulme is supposed to be amazing. i believe it is about an australian living among a tribe in polynesia.

I'm pretty sure it isn't....

You're not thinking of Lloyd Jones' Mister Pip, are you? That's about a New Zealander living in Papua New Guinea, in a low-tech tribal village, and is probably worth a read.
posted by Infinite Jest at 4:48 PM on November 1, 2007

Hans Ruesch's Top of the world was very good when I read it way back when (although now I come to realize he never really met an eskimo).
posted by subajestad at 4:50 PM on November 1, 2007

"The Pillars of the Earth" and (its sequel) "World Without End" are really fun page-turners set in the 12th Century (Pillars) and the 14th (world) in the same English town. They're not about indigenous peoples (based on the examples you give), but they're set in times before electricity and petroleum.
posted by grumblebee at 5:12 PM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Check out the book Waterlily.
posted by salvia at 5:21 PM on November 1, 2007

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. A classic look at pre-Colonial Africa.
posted by Deathalicious at 5:41 PM on November 1, 2007

I read Garrison Keillor's new book Pontoon recently. It made me laugh out loud several times. I'd recommend it.
posted by jeffamaphone at 6:35 PM on November 1, 2007

I think you would LOVE "The Gypsies" by Jan Yoors. Yoors was a young kid in Belgium in the 1930's who went to check out a group of nomadic Rom who'd established a camp near his village for a few days. He befriended some boys his age there, ended up spending the night under the stars and basically didn't return home for ages. His incredibly artsy parents didn't mind, and with their permission, he ended up traveling with the Rom family's kumpania for several years. "The Gypsies" accounts for this period - basically up until the start of WWII. It's a remarkable, loving (and accurate) book.

Yoors had an incredible life; eventually helping the anti-German resistance by organizing a group of Rom people, who were pretty adept at getting around borders and living sub-rosa. (This was subject of another book.)

Later, he became a world-famous artist with an unusual, quasi-polygamous lifestyle in NYC, and he was something of an unofficial spokesman for the Rom.

The book is beautifully written, full of great observations about the Rom's "primitive" lifestyle. It avoids ridiculous stereotyping (particularly for its time) and does a fine job of presenting Rom culture as something every bit as valid as our own - more than our own in many ways. It presents Rom life for what it really was at the time.

I'd also recommend "The Songlines" by Bruce Chatwin, which is a novel (full of great theories, facts and ideas, though) about a guy encountering the lifestyle of aboriginal Australians. It's fairly accurate in depicting their modern-day life while conjuring up a compelling sense of what's been lost.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 7:02 PM on November 1, 2007 [3 favorites]

Dee Xtrovert, "The Songlines" is a great book, but I'm almost positive it's non-fiction (or was at least sold as such).
posted by grumblebee at 9:46 PM on November 1, 2007

I've always liked the Ivory Carvers Trilogy (Mother Earth Father Sky, My Sister the Moon, Brother Wind) , by Sue Harrison. It's, very loosely, about Aleuts in the ice age, and it definitely fits the nature of your request.
posted by Coatlicue at 9:52 PM on November 1, 2007

Actually, Grumblebee, "The Songlines" is fiction. But the other book I recommended, "The Gypsies," is non-fiction. I missed that part of the original post. But for the record, I can't imagine the person asking the question would dislike either book!

If I were to be completely straightforward, "The Songlines" does come across more like a work of non-fiction in certain ways, while "The Gypsies" feels much more like a work of fiction. Yet the opposite is true for both of them. So read and enjoy. It's a tough line to draw sometimes.

I'd also like to suggest "Zoli: A Novel" by Colum McCann. It's a fictionalized composite of two real stories: Ilona Lackova's "A False Dawn: My Life as a Gypsy Woman in Slovakia" - a fine oral history of this incredible woman's life, and the story of the Polish-Rom poet Bronislawa Wajs, who was also known as Papusza. Papusza was ostracized from her people because of her penchant for writing poetry (and allowing it to be published.) Lackova's story is somewhat similar, though she ultimately managed to struggle both Rom and gadjo worlds more successfully.

All of these books have a strong narrative sense and aren't very acdemic in the way of much non-fiction.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 10:37 PM on November 1, 2007

I cannot recommend Ordinary Wolves enough, especially since it deals with one man's transition from being raised in an Inupiak environment (as a non-Inupiak) to a more mainstream Alaskan environment, with microwaves and snowmobiles and planes. It is a fantastic read, with great character development along the way.
posted by blindcarboncopy at 9:39 PM on November 2, 2007

two old women by velma wallis. she's got a couple others as well.
posted by boygirlparty at 9:44 AM on November 5, 2007

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