In the Sun's House
My Year Teaching on the Navajo ReservationA fledgling teacher finds his place in the unlikeliest of settings
In the year he spent teaching at Borrego Pass, a remote Navajo community in northwest New Mexico, Kurt Caswell found himself shunned as persona non grata. His cultural missteps, status as an interloper, and white skin earned him no respect in the classroom or the communitythose on the reservation assumed ...
- Published: September 2009
- Published: April 2011
In the year he spent teaching at Borrego Pass, a remote Navajo community in northwest New Mexico, Kurt Caswell found himself shunned as persona non grata. His cultural missteps, status as an interloper, and white skin earned him no respect in the classroom or the communitythose on the reservation assumed he would come and go like so many teachers had before. But as Caswell attempts to bridge the gap between himself and those who surround him, he finds his calling as a teacher and develops a love for the rich landscape of New Mexico, and manages a hard-won truce between his failings and successes.
“Teaching language arts to middle school students on a Navajo reservation is not for the fainthearted, as Kurt Caswell demonstrates in this probing memoir.”— the Rumpus
“In the Sun’s House gathers together so much of the world that lies remote, to our eyes and often our hearts—the Navajo nation, the desert Southwest, the elusive joys of the classroom, the forces that both shape identity and erode it, the lonely isolation that accompanies wanderlust, the not always apparent journey toward what it is we most desire from life. There’s a quiet, sometimes wind-bitten loveliness in Caswell’s seductive voice that builds triumphantly to a level of uplifting grace.”— Bob Shacochis, National Book Award–winning author of Easy in the Islands and The Woman Who Lost Her Soul
“An exquisitely written, consistently thoughtful, and engaging work . . . Its scrupulous personal honesty and research into the Navajos combine to produce a rich literary experience, as engrossing as a novel yet buoyed by the sense of a reliable observer bearing witness to what actually happened.”— Phillip Lopate, author of Two Marriages
“This is a literary chronicle with the flavor of Tom Wolfe's brand of naturalism, told with well-observed scenes, dialogue in full, strong point of view, and illuminating details.”— New Mexico Magazine