Sacred City
200 pages, 5 1/2 x 8
1 map
Release Date:01 Nov 2021

Sacred City

University of New Mexico Press

Chicago: home to urban Indians and immigrants and working folks and the whole gamut of people getting by in a world that doesn't care whether they do so or not. Sacred City is an incomparable follow-up to Van Alst's award-winning debut collection, Sacred Smokes. Our young narrator now heads deeper into the heart of the city and himself, accompanied by ancestors and spirits who help him and the reader see that Chicago was, is, and always will be Indian Country. Part love song and part lament, Sacred City explores what options are available to an intelligent, smart-assed young man who was born poor and grew up in a gang. Van Alst's skillful storytelling takes us on a journey where Chicago will never seem the same.

In this collection of vivid, visceral, and vital stories, Theodore C. Van Alst Jr. reminds us that Native American voices cannot be contained.'--Bill Savage, Northwestern University
Tecumseh said, 'The Great Spirit above knows no boundaries,' and neither does Ted Van Alst: the stories in Sacred City are electrifying, propulsive, and light up the land with indignation and fierce compassion. Here are stories about people's struggles that are as heartbreaking and gritty as they are ingenious. I loved it.'--Brandon Hobson, National Book Award finalist and author of The Removed: A Novel
Reading this one, you think Sacred Smokes never went over, but then you look down at this sidewalk Theo Van Alst's been leading you down and realize you're standing in Sacred City, and you kind of never want to leave, so long as he'll keep telling these stories.'--Stephen Graham Jones, author of The Only Good Indians
Sacred City's swagger is as sacred as it is profane. Van Alst's writing is ancient blood screaming through the streets of Chicago. This is more than literature; it's history, love, violence, ancestral knowledge, and brotherhood thrown on the page with the power of a Molotov cocktail and the precision of a lyricist. I'd say something about transcendence and the universe, but this book taught me not to think so small.'--Gabino Iglesias, author of Coyote Songs
Sacred City is a brilliant powerhouse that hit me like a poetry jam session, some damn fine urban-Indian music; Chicago honor song, love song, protest hymn, and dirge. Smart and smart-ass conversation, showing our slide from one cultural lexicon to another, all woven together in a Chi-Town Native special. Sacred City tells us real stories of people we might not know, but should. It maps layers of a sprawling town's history and its deep Indigenous roots. A dazzling achievement!'--Susan Power, author of Sacred Wilderness
Van Alst's writing is riveting and funny as hell; brutal, blunt, and utterly unique YA. Sacred City is a serious ass kicking--a young-adult voice with poetry and violence and a history that feels too present day to call prescient overflowing its pages. I cannot recommend strongly enough, and as with Van Alst's previous work, I wish I was still teaching high school language arts, because Sacred City certainly belongs on the syllabus.'--Kimberly Davis Basso, author of I'm a Little Brain Dead and Birth and Other Surprises

Theodore C. Van Alst Jr. is a professor and the chair of Indigenous Nations Studies at Portland State University. He is also the author of Sacred Smokes (UNM Press).

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