Treuer, David 1970-

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Treuer, David 1970-


Born October 21, 1970, in Washington, DC; son of Robert (a writer) and Margaret (a lawyer) Treuer. Ethnicity: "Native American." Education: Princeton University, A.B., 1992; University of Michigan, M.A., 1996, Ph.D.; studied at University of Minnesota.


Home—Bemidji, MN. Office—Department of English, University of Minnesota, 110L Lind Hall, 207 Church St., S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455. Agent—Joe Veltre, Artists Literary Group, 27 W. 20th St., 10th Fl., New York, NY 10011.


Writer. White Earth Land Recovery Project and Red Lake Reservation School District, 1994-95; Rainy Lake Ojibwe Education Authority, 1995; University of Minnesota, instructor in creative writing, 1996; University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI, lecturer in English, 1998-99; University of Minnesota, assistant professor, 1999-2006, associate professor of English, 2006—.


Rhodes Scholarship finalist, 1992; Pushcart Prize, 1996; Fulbright fellow to Canada, 1996-97; Minnesota Book Award finalist, 1996, for Little; Penn West prize finalist, 1999; Washington Post Critics Choice Award, 2006, for The Translation of Dr. Apelles.


Native American Fiction: A User's Manual (nonfiction), Graywolf Press (St. Paul, MN), 2006.


Little, Graywolf Press (St. Paul, MN), 1995.

The Hiawatha, Picador (New York, NY), 1999.

The Translation of Dr. Apelles: A Love Story, Graywolf Press (St. Paul, MN), 2006.

Author's works have been translated into Norwegian, Finnish, French, and Greek. Contributor to Minnesota History, Sail: Studies in American Indian Literatures, Speakeasy, American Indian Culture and Research Journal, View from the Loft, Scrawl, Argonaut, Bomb, and Granta Shorts.


David Treuer has been praised as a new voice among Native American writers, one who sheds light on the difficulties facing his people on the reservations and in the cities of this nation. A graduate of Princeton University and a Rhodes Scholarship finalist, Treuer has published three novels and a work of nonfiction, all centered on Native American themes.

Little, Treuer's debut work, takes place on a reservation appropriately called Poverty. At the story's outset, a young disabled child named Little meets a tragic death. The remainder of the narrative reveals the people who lived with and cared for the child, in an atmosphere rife with desperation and family secrets. Entertainment Weekly reviewer Megan Harlan called Little "spell-binding," and praised the novel for the way it pieces together the varied elements that climax in the young- ster's death. Ultimately, Harlan concluded, "Little proves very big indeed: a passionate tale of place, race, and human nature." In Booklist, Kathleen Hughes declared that Treuer "has fashioned a moody story with fascinating characters and an ever-evolving plot that highlights the absurd disparities between the rich and the poor."

Words like "devastating" and "harrowing" have been used to describe Treuer's second novel, The Hiawatha. Once again set in Minnesota, the book revolves around Simon, an ex-convict who murdered his own brother under mysterious circumstances. As Simon attempts to rebuild his life, old family secrets and the grinding cycle of urban poverty intervene to impede his progress. "Treuer's powerful, disturbing portrait of one Ojibwe family's struggle with poverty, violence and racism is conveyed in terse prose of driving urgency," wrote a Publishers Weekly critic, who added: "Bluntly effective dialogue lays bare the tough heart of Treuer's brutally compelling saga." In the Times Literary Supplement, Lucy Atkins suggested that The Hiawatha is more than a mere family drama. "David Treuer delves into the self-immolating culture of the disenfrachised Native American, choosing the construction industry as a backdrop to the troubled domestic world, and so broadening the reader's attention outwards: on how the American dream has failed its most powerless citizens," Atkins stated. "Metaphors of destruction, risk and physical brinkmanship generate a powerful comment on the rootlessness of the Native American, forced to live on the margins of an uncaring society."

Treuer saw two of his books published in 2006: the literary critique Native American Fiction: A User's Manual, and the novel The Translation of Dr. Apelles: A Love Story. Treuer maintains that fiction produced by a Native American should be assessed as a standalone literary work without regard to the author's ethnicity; Native American Fiction includes numerous excerpts from talented Native writers as evidence. Treuer offered his own literary contribution with The Translation of Dr. Apelles, a work described by Booklist reviewer Deborah Donovan as "an intricate and provocative labyrinth that challenges the reader at every turn." The novel tells two parallel stories: one, a fable about two orphaned Native Americans whose eventual romance seems destined, and another, the narrative of an academic who finds a manuscript of the love story in a local library and attempts to translate it. The mythical story begins to weigh heavily on the researcher, who realizes his own romantic failings and reaches out to a workmate for a relationship, even as the two stories begin to parallel. A Publishers Weekly reviewer found that the "author's beautiful prose—Flaubert in some places, Chekhov in others—grabs and holds attention." "The power of imagination, love, and the written word come across in this engaging tale," remarked Library Journal reviewer Jim Coan.



Booklist, October 15, 1995, Kathleen Hughes, review of Little; September 15, 2006, Deborah Donovan, review of The Translation of Dr. Apelles: A Love Story, p. 29.

Entertainment Weekly, February 7, 1997, Megan Harlan, review of Little, p. 65.

Library Journal, September 15, 2006, Jim Coan, review of The Translation of Dr. Apelles, p. 51.

Publishers Weekly, March 29, 1999, review of The Hiawatha, p. 90; July 31, 2006, review of The Translation of Dr. Apelles, p. 49.

Times Literary Supplement, June 18, 1999, Lucy Atkins, review of The Hiawatha, p. 25.


David Treuer Home Page, (July 10, 2007).