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Where the Dead Sit Talking

Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous American; Native American;
Status: In Print
Grade Levels: 10; 11; 12; University/College;
Authentic Indigenous Text

Set in rural Oklahoma during the late 1980s, Where the Dead Sit Talking is a startling, authentically voiced and lyrically written Native American coming-of-age story.

With his single mother in jail, Sequoyah, a fifteen-year-old Cherokee boy, is placed in foster care with the Troutt family. Literally and figuratively scarred by his mother’s years of substance abuse, Sequoyah keeps mostly to himself, living with his emotions pressed deep below the surface. At least until he meets seventeen-year-old Rosemary, a troubled artist who also lives with the family.

Sequoyah and Rosemary bond over their shared Native American background and tumultuous paths through the foster care system, but as Sequoyah’s feelings toward Rosemary deepen, the precariousness of their lives and the scars of their pasts threaten to undo them both.


  • A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2018
  • 2019 In the Margins Book Award Top Fiction Novel

"An extraordinary book." —NPR's Code Switch

"A strange and powerful Native American Bildungsroman . . . this novel breathes with a dark, pulsing life of its own." —The Tulsa Voice

" This is a dark story that depicts the loneliness and pain of unwanted children and the foster care system where they end up . . . authentic and humane. " — The Oklahoman

"A powerful testament to one young Native American’s will to survive his lonely existence. Sequoyah’s community and experience is one we all need to know, and Hobson delivers the young man’s story in a deeply profound narrative." —KMUW Wichita Public Radio

"I was really struck by the intelligence of the book, as well as the significance of the story that he's telling, about what it's like to be a modern Indigenous person in this country, as a Native American, and to be in the foster care system. I was very struck by the plot of it—it's very well written, it's very propulsive, it's very readable for literary fiction, and I would recommend it heartily to book clubs." —Min Jin Lee, author of Pachinko

"Dreamlike prose . . . Where the Dead Sit Talking is an exploration of whether it’s possible for a person to heal when all the world sees is a battlefield of scars. " — San Diego CityBeat

"The latest from Hobson is a smart, dark novel of adolescence, death, and rural secrets set in late-1980s Oklahoma. Hobson’s narrative control is stunning, carrying the reader through scenes and timelines with verbal grace and sparse detail. Far more than a mere coming-of-age story, this is a remarkable and moving novel ." — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"A masterly tale of life and death, hopes and fears, secrets and lies." —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

"Hobson's eloquent prose and storyline will keep literary and general fiction readers turning pages. Its teen protagonists offer interest for young adults." —Library Journal

"[A] poignant and disturbing coming-of-age story . . . Hobson presents a painfully visceral drama about the overlooked lives of those struggling on the periphery of mainstream society." —Booklist

"Where the Dead Sit Talking is a sensitive and searching exploration of a youth forged in turbulence, in the endless aftermath of displacement and loss. Sequoyah’s voice is powerfully singular—both wounded and wounding—and this novel is a thrilling confirmation of Brandon Hobson’s immense gifts on the page.” —Laura van den Berg, author of Find Me

Additional Information
5.50" x 8.25"