Author Profile

David Treuer

David Treuer

David Treuer is an Ojibwe Indian from Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota. He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, the 1996 Minnesota Book Award, and fellowships from the NEH, Bush Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He divides his time between his home on the Leech Lake Reservation and Los Angeles, where he is a Professor of Literature at USC.

The son of Robert Treuer, an Austrian Jew and holocaust survivor and Margaret Seelye Treuer, a tribal court judge, David Treuer grew up on Leech Lake Reservation. After graduating form high school he attended Princeton University where he wrote two senior thesis--one in anthropology and one in creative writing--and where he worked with Toni Morrison, Paul Muldoon, and Joanna Scott.

Treuer graduated in 1992 and published his first novel, Little, in 1995. He received his PhD in anthropology and published his second novel, The Hiawatha, in 1999. His third novel The Translation of Dr. Apelles and a book of criticism, Native American Fiction: A User's Manual appeared in 2006. The Translation of Dr. Apelles was named a Best Book of the Year by the Washington Post, Time Out, and City Pages. He published his first major work of nonfiction, Rez Life, in 2012. His next novel, Prudence, was published in 2015 and nominated for the 2016 Minnesota Book Award.

Reviews of Prudence

What does it say about our troubled times ---and David Treuer's considerable talents--that his World War II-era novel speaks to the present moment in American history with more eloquence and complexity than the nightly newscast? Inequalities of race, class, gender and sexual orientation; the treatment of captured combatants; the Escheresque ethics of bombing civilians a world away; the culture that allows white people to shoot people of color with impunity; all this, and much more besides, resonates through Treuer's tender and devastating book... [A] master class on suspense, shifting perspective and conflicting desire.
-- Anthony Marra, The Washington Post

The poetics of damage permeates David Treuer's elegantly bitter fourth novel, Prudence, which unites a distinctly modern sociopolitical perspective with a more old-fashioned moral rigor about the consequences of emotional cowardice, complicity, and repression... Treuer is particularly skilled in showing how a substantial lie in one area of life can manifest as a distortion in another, apparently unrelated area... Without judgment, but also without blinking, he expertly vivisects characters who can't own up to the truth about themselves, showing how the unaddressed damage only deepens over time... Prudence hurts, and that hurt lingers. Very few novels take that much of a rish.
-- The New York Times Book Review,

Reviews of Rez Life

[Treuer's] upbringing on an Ojibwe reservation in Minnesota makes him adept at delving behind stereotypes of Indian life and infuses his account with passion and meticulousness.
-- The New Yorker,

In a book that is part memoir, part journalistic exposé and part cultural history, novelist Treuer offers a movingly plainspoken account of reservation life... Powerful, important reading.
-- Kirkus Reviews,

Smartly, this book blends journalism, history and memoir... to provide both anecdotes of present-day reservation life and history... Treuer's message - the picture he gives of Indian reservation life today - is not one of defeat or demise but of miraculous survival.
-- Greg Sarris, San Francisco Chronicle

Videos featuring David Treuer

David Treuer at the NYS Writers Institute in 2013