Short Story Saturday: Letter from the End of the Twentieth Century

maxresdefault.jpgTitle: Letter from the End of the Twentieth Century  (Links to short story collection and the music)

Author: Joy Harjo

Genre: Short Story, Music, Poetry

Number of pages: 2 pages

Time it took me to read:  1 Day

Short Story Review:

When I first looked up this short story I was looking for diverse short stories from cultures that I was unfamiliar with. I found this short in a collection of Native American literature and was quite confused when all I could find in my research was the music video on Youtube. Joy Harjo is an author and accomplished musician. So I was pleased that I could also hear this short story with music.

This short is told through the narrator’s encounter with a taxi driver from Nigeria in New York. The taxi driver tells the story of his friend who is killed in a senseless murder one day and touches on the themes of loss, compassion, and forgiveness. What touched me the most with this read was how Harjo was able to connect each person’s longing for the home they left behind. I was brought to tears with the fact that one of them would never see their beloved homeland again. This is quite a feat considering the read is one 2 pages.

Overall, this was a touching piece brought to life by the music of the author and I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a short piece that touches the heart.

My rating:

4

Find out more about the short story and Joy Harjo here

Follow Joy Harjo on Facebook and YouTube

Author Bio (from Reckonings):

Joy Harjo (Muscogee)
Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Joy Harjo is a well-known poet, musician, writer, and performer. She earned an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa. She has published several books, including She Had Some Horses, In Mad Love and War, The Woman Who Fell from the Sky, A Map to the Next World, and How We Became Human, New and Selected Poems, from W. W. Norton. Her first children’s book, The Good Luck Cat, was published by Harcourt. She has also coedited an anthology of Native women’s writing, Reinventing the Enemy’s Language: Native Women’s Writing of North America, and a book of poetic prose with photographs by Stephen Strom, Secrets from the Center of the World. She has received several awards for her writing, including the 2002 Beyond Margins Award from PEN, 2001 American Indian Festival of Words Author Award from the Tulsa City County Library, the 2000 Western Literature Association Distinguished Achievement Award, the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers Award, 1997 New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas. She is a member of the National Council on the Arts.

In addition to her writing, Harjo performs nationally and internationally as a tenor
saxophonist, both solo and with a band, Poetic Justice, for which she writes music. Her
first CD, Letter from the End of the Twentieth Century, was released by Silverwave Records in 1997. In 1998, the CD was honored by the First Americans in the Arts with the award for Outstanding Musical Achievement. In addition, she was awarded the 2003 –2004 Writer of the Year (Poetry) and the 2003–2004 Storyteller of the Year award by Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers. That same year, she was given the Lifetime Achievement Award from Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas. In 2005, she was presented the Writer of the Year Award (Film Script) by Native Writers’ Circle of the
Americas. Currently, she is teaching at the University of California, Los Angeles. When
she is not teaching and traveling, she lives in Honolulu.

Reckonings Synopsis

The fifteen Native women writers in Reckonings document transgenerational trauma, yet they also celebrate survival. Their stories are vital testaments of our times. Unlike most anthologies that present a single story from many writers, this volume offers a sampling of two to three stories by a select number of both famous and lesser known Native women writers in what is now the United States. Here you will find much-loved stories, many made easily accessible for the first time, and vibrant new stories by well-known contemporary Native American writers as well as fresh emergent voices. These stories share an understanding of Native women’s lives in their various modes of loss and struggle, resistance and acceptance, and rage and compassion, ultimately highlighting the individual and collective will to endure against all odds.