Raven's Children

Richard Adams Carey, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $21.95 (396p) ISBN 978-0-395-48677-1
This thoroughly researched, engagingly written sociological study puts Kongiganak, Alaska, on the literary map. The dramatic thread of the book is a 1989 summer fishing expedition that Carey, who teaches in Kongiganak, spends with Yupik Eskimos Oscar and Margaret Active. He intersperses regional history and cultural anthropology with the psychology of Oscar's extended family, including older brother Charlie's ``chemical obsession'' with alcohol. A poignant Memorial Day visit to family graves unravels the desperate past; another haunting chapter ends with the gift of Stove Top stuffing for a child's birthday party in exchange for a meal for the Active family. The author explains the intricate process of obtaining and retaining fishing permits and how the ``land of wealth'' maintains its frontier status with ``deep shadows of poverty,'' as Oscar feels an ``iron collar'' of debt when herring fishing barely brings in gas money. Carey brings this world alive with compelling examination of modern mores descended from ancestral values, proving that ``time collapses, accordions together.'' Illustrations not seen by PW. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1992
Release date: 06/01/1992
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