The Meat and Bones of Life


With the publication of her most recent novel, White Horse (Flatiron Books, 2022), Erika T. Wurth breaks from the realism that characterized her earlier fiction and ventures into horror. White Horse follows Kari, an urban Native living in Denver, as a family heirloom belonging to her long-missing mother launches her into a world of the uncanny: ghosts and monsters lurch into real life and portals transport her into scenes from the past that reveal traumatic family secrets.

Wurth speaks with critic Leif Sorensen and host Rebecca Evans about what abides at the intersection of politics and craft, and what’s at stake in particular for the Indigenous writers of genre fiction whose work takes shape at that intersection. Their conversation pokes serious fun at everything from the faltering literary truism that being good at plot is somehow less impressive than being good at characterization to debates over authenticity in Native literature. Horror, as Wurth describes it, offers real and meaningful pleasures, solves the craft problems of over exposition, and opens up powerful questions of identity, politics, and history. Tune in for recommendations for genre writers from the emerging Fifth Wave of Indigenous fiction, reflections on orality and linguistics, and Wurth’s cure for “writer’s depression” instead of writer’s block!


Wurth also references and recommends a number of genre writers, from romance to speculative literature to crime fiction to horror and beyond. Check out her picks, including B. L. Blanchard, V. Castro, Kelli Jo Ford, Lev Grossman, Grady Hendrix, Brandon Hobson, Marlon James, Jessica Johns, Stephen Graham Jones, Stephen King, Victor LaValle, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Danica Nava, Rebecca Roanhorse, and David Heska Wanbli Weiden!

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