Excerpt from The Boy and The Dog Are Sleeping by   Nasdijj, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Boy and The Dog Are Sleeping

by   Nasdijj

The Boy and The Dog Are Sleeping by   Nasdijj X
The Boy and The Dog Are Sleeping by   Nasdijj
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Feb 2003, 336 pages
    Mar 2004, 352 pages

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

I drove my dog home and went to bed.

Those eyes. That boy. The thunder and the rain.

I was in a bookstore in White People Town. I was there to read my book.

I am told that when writers do this reading and speaking it sells books, but I am not sure I believe it.

When you're finished reading, bookstore owners expect you to play questions-and-answers with white people who want to know things like what do you really think of Tony Hillerman?

I can only shrug. Tony Hillerman writes Navajo mysteries.

The Navajo are the real mystery.

I do not claim to know them. Does anyone know the Navajo? Is it possible? I exist outside the context of any group or clan. I was a migrant worker. Just another brat born into a sheep camp. I do not belong to any tribe. I can only speak for myself.

It is only within the context of recent history that the Navajo defined themselves within tribal perimeters. They had always been a loosely knit band of roving clans. For centuries, the warriors were beholden to no one specific leader, no chief, and warriors could join the ranks of any guiding star they wanted their family to follow. When the grazing was good at the upper levels, they moved their sheep there. When the mountain weather turned ugly, they moved their sheep down into the valleys.

The fundamental notion of the sheep camp is one of movement. People are always moving to and from the sheep camp. This included my mother, who met a white man (we call them Anglos) who (no accident) was a migrant worker but saw himself as a cowboy. My parents could work just about any job on any ranch. But they also picked cash crops, because at the end of the day, they could and did count their money. And then they moved on.

I look just like my Anglo dad.

I have lived on many reservations. I have lived among the Navajo, the Tewa, the Chippewa, and the Mescalero Apache. I have worked with the children of these tribes. The reservation with its poverty and its rich sunsets and its coyotes who laugh, howl, and disappear.

I am never asked in bookstores about poverty on the reservation. I am never asked by Anglos about the death that comes from the uranium mines imposed upon us. I am never asked why the Navajo do not have water. Yet the coal mines and the gold mines and the silver mines and the uranium mines and the copper mines have all the water they need. All over the West. All over the West the water goes to them. I am never asked by Anglos about health care on the reservation. I am never asked about the schools on the reservation where if you dared to speak in Navajo you got your mouth washed out with soap. I am never asked about tuberculosis on the reservation. I am never asked about starvation on the reservation. Those people who have the reservation in their blood just know. We know about these things. These events in bookstores seem to be about as relevant as a tea and crumpets party given by the Methodist Ladies Society. I am asked about Tony Hillerman. I do not understand these events.

I do not know Tony Hillerman. Why would I read him? To study the Navajo? It's like you've made some jewelry, and you've taken it to the flea market. You sit there at some card table, and white people come along, and want to know if you know Tony Hillerman.

I try not to look at white people.

I saw him then.

I saw him walk into the bookstore.

The bell above the door rang.

The boy at the lake. It's late at night. It's dark, and I am wondering how he got here. We are miles from the reservation, and he's dressed in a thin T-shirt.

I saw him steal a book.

He stood in line.

I signed it.

"Who am I signing this for?" I asked. I knew his name. His dad had told me. Up at the lake. In the rain. In the jeep. Purple veins up and down his neck like a road map into hell. With the gods above us and the dragons screaming blood.

Excerpted from The Boy and the Dog Are Sleeping by Nasdijj Copyright© 2003 by Nasdijj. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Vita Nostra
    Vita Nostra
    by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko
    Vita Nostra by Ukrainian authors Sergey and Marina Dyachenko is one of those novels that defies ...
  • Book Jacket: And The Ocean Was Our Sky
    And The Ocean Was Our Sky
    by Patrick Ness
    Patrick Ness has developed a reputation for experimental literature executed well, and his latest, ...
  • Book Jacket: Let It Bang
    Let It Bang
    by RJ Young
    Every interracial love story is an exercise in complications. R.J. Young and Lizzie Stafford's ...
  • Book Jacket: A Spark of Light
    A Spark of Light
    by Jodi Picoult
    The central premise of A Spark of Light involves a gunman holding hostages within the confines of a ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
by Barbara Kingsolver

A timely novel that explores the human capacity for resiliency and compassion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    A Ladder to the Sky
    by John Boyne

    A seductive, unputdownable psychodrama following one brilliant, ruthless man.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Paris Echo
    by Sebastian Faulks

    A story of resistance, complicity, and an unlikely, transformative friendship.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Severance

Severance by Ling Ma

An offbeat, wryly funny, apocalyptic satire that is featured on more than twenty 2018 "Must Read" lists!


Word Play

Solve this clue:

I Ain't O U T F L S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.