Meet Brandon Hobson, author of Where the Dead Sit Talking and enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. A finalist for the 2018 National Book Awards, Where the Dead Sit Talking is an arresting novel about a fifteen-year-old Cherokee boy named Sequoyah who is making his way through the foster care system. We asked Brandon about his book, which is featured on our current Action Book Club recommended reading list.
How long have you been writing, and how did you get started?
I started writing in college, when I was about 19. What drew me to writing was being introduced to really great literature that I didn’t read in high school—Erdrich, Welch, Hempel, Marquez, Carver.
Where the Dead Sit Talking is a critically acclaimed work in the growing Native American canon. What other Native American writers do you think everyone should read?
Well, there are plenty! There’s a new wave of Native writers right now that’s very exciting. They include Kelli Jo Ford, whose new book, Crooked Hallelujah, is coming out this spring; Layli Longsoldier, Tommy Orange, Erika Wurth, David Treuer, Santee Frazier, David Heska Wanbli Weiden, whose new novel is coming out from Ecco; Sherwin Bitsui. And there’s also Joy Harjo, N. Scott Momaday, Louise Erdrich, Stephen Graham Jones, Kim Blaeser. Do you want more? I can keep going.
Our current Action Book Club theme, “We Are Family”, celebrates families of all kinds and how they shape us. How does family play an important role in Where the Dead Sit Talking?
Sequoyah sees family in Rosemary while separated from his mother. He also begins to see caring foster parents that are serving their role as family.
What are you reading right now?
Mostly my students’ work, but I’ve also been reading Kimberly King Parson’s Black Light, which is a fantastic story collection.
Thank you for talking with us, Brandon. Learn how you can start an Action Book Club, which combines reading with community service. We hope you choose Brandon Hobson’s excellent Where the Dead Sit Talking as the first book you read!