The Insufficiency of Maps

The Insufficiency of Maps

By Nora Pierce

Atria Books, Hardcover, 9780743292078, 224pp.

Publication Date: April 17, 2007


In this powerful debut novel by award-winning Nora Pierce, a young girl must discover the meaning of self and family as she struggles to find her place between two contrasting realities.

On the reservation, Alice lives in a run-down trailer. Both her parents are alcoholics. She seldom has enough food and she rarely attends school, but she is free to follow her imagination. She is connected to the life and ancestry of her people and the deep love she receives from her family and community.

When her mother succumbs to schizophrenia, Alice is removed from her home and placed with a white foster family in the suburbs. This new world is neat and tidy and wholesome, but it is also alien, and Alice is unmoored from everything she has ever known and everything that has defined her.

As she traces Alice's journey between two cultures, Pierce asks probing questions about identity and difference, and she articulates vital truths about the contemporary Native American experience. Utterly authentic and lyrically compelling, this novel establishes Pierce as an important voice in American literature.

About the Author

Nora Pierce teaches creative writing at Stanford University, where she was also a Wallace Stegner fellow. An award-winning writer, she was a Rosenthal Fellow in the PEN Center Emerging Voices program. She lives with her husband and child in California.