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People of the Whale: A Novel by Linda Hogan
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People of the Whale: A Novel (edition 2008)

by Linda Hogan

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825147,013 (3.69)7
Member:owen1218
Title:People of the Whale: A Novel
Authors:Linda Hogan
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (2009), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 312 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:novel, whales, American Indians, American Indian literature, Vietnam War, trauma, Pacific Northwest

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People of the Whale: A Novel by Linda Hogan

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Beautiful, lyrical sentences with almost a dreamlike feel. Compares and contrasts the suffering of Native Americans with that of the people of Vietnam during the unjust war in the 60s and 70s. ( )
  Marzia22 | Apr 3, 2013 |
After reading this book, I have the feeling that I listened to it. It sings, chants, sighs and moans in perfect time with the surf, regardless of how far inland you may be. I may never have read a more rhythmic piece of prose before, neither strained nor self-conscious, and the story suits the writing style perfectly.

Ruth and Thomas, both members of a Pacific Northwest Native American tribe, are childhood sweethearts. They grow up together surrounded by the song of the ocean, the presence of ocean life – most especially the whale and the octopus who are believed to have given them life – and the legends and beliefs of their ancestors. Eventually they marry, but before Ruth’s pregnancy is discovered, Thomas is led by a group of local ne’er-do-wells to join the Army. After he is shipped off to Viet Nam, their lives change forever – hers on home soil, his in a far distant country that will become his second home and the death of all his dreams. The story is sad and also joyful, steeped in magic, legend and bitter truths about the interplay of war, tradition and the natural world. This bringing together of the old with the new gives Hogan’s story emotional power and social relevance, even though she draws her lessons from the distant past of the ocean-paddling tribes. A fine and very engaging read. ( )
  kambrogi | Dec 31, 2009 |
This is one of the most beautifully written books I've read in a long time. Hogan, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, tells the story of Thomas and Ruth, members of a fictional Native American community on the Washington coast. Not long after their wedding, Thomas enlists to fight in Vietnam, and both of their lives are changed forever. Thomas, missing in action for a long time, ultimately starts a family in Vietnam. Ruth bears his son and raises him alone. When found and forced to return to the states, Thomas does not come home. It is only when some of the men of the tribe decide to initiate a supposedly tradtional whale hunt does Thomas return. The results of the hunt are tragic and disastrous, but they move Thomas in the direction of healing.

This book is mystical, exquisitely beautiful and terribly painful. It is well worth reading. ( )
  mayaspector | Sep 12, 2009 |
Thomas Just returns from Vietnam and disappears from his family (wife Ruth and son Marco Polo), having abandoned another child, Lin, in Vietnam, until he gets word of a tribal whale killing to take place. This horrible corruption of an act once intimately connected to nature for these People of the Whale is indicative of how far removed they are from their roots (they murder a young whale, who had only come close to greet them, rather than a whale that, traditionally, they would ask to offer itself up to feed their people)--all actually part of a money deal made by corrupt tribal counsel. Marco, a special one, student of the old ways, is murdered on the hunt for protesting the killing of the young whale. Eventually Lin turns up in the village to reconcile with Thomas, and Dwayne, the corrupt tribal leader ends up dead, so it ties up fairly neatly. There's some cool oddness where a rainmaker is summoned to ease the drought brought on by the violation of killing the young whale--a rainmaker who turns out to be the octopus (in human form) who came ashore at the time of Thomas's birth. These are the touches that make the book worth reading--the mystic connection with nature the native people originally possessed, etc. Set in a seaside village not quite identified in Washington state. ( )
  beaujoe | May 2, 2009 |
This is a thought provoking book about war and relationships with others and one's sense of self. It takes place in an Eskimo village that reveres the whale. It's short but stimulates reflection. ( )
  edreader62 | Dec 4, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393064573, Hardcover)

A powerful story of a Vietnam veteran torn between his war experience and his Native American community.

Raised in a remote seaside village, Thomas Witka Just marries Ruth, his beloved since infancy. But an ill-fated decision to fight in Vietnam changes his life forever: cut off from his Native American community, he fathers a child with another woman. When he returns home a hero, he finds his tribe in conflict over the decision to hunt a whale, both a symbol of spirituality and rebirth and a means of survival. In the end, he reconciles his two existences, only to see tragedy befall the son he left behind.

Linda Hogan, called our most provocative Native American writer, with "her unparalleled gifts for truth and magic" (Barbara Kingsolver), has written a compassionate novel about the beauty of the natural world and the painful moral choices humans make in it. With a keen sense of the environment, spirituality, and the trauma of war, People of the Whale is a powerful novel for our times.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:04 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Raised in a remote seaside village, Thomas Witka Just marries Ruth, his beloved since infancy. But an ill-fated decision to fight in Vietnam changes his life forever: cut off from his Native American community, he fathers a child with another woman. When he returns home a hero, he finds his tribe in conflict over the decision to hunt a whale, both a symbol of spirituality and rebirth and a means of survival. In the end, he reconciles his two existences, only to see tragedy befall the son he left behind.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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W.W. Norton

Two editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393064573, 0393335348

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