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Book Discussion Examines Native American Murder Case

The "Let’s Talk About It," Oklahoma book discussion series at Oklahoma City University will conclude its season with “The American Café” by Sara Sue Hoklotubbe at 7 p.m. Nov. 11 in Walker Center room 151.

The discussion series is made possible through a grant from the Oklahoma Humanities Council.

This year’s series is investigating crime novels that take place in Oklahoma. At each session in the five-part series, a humanities scholar makes a presentation on the book in the context of the theme. Small group discussions follow with experienced discussion leaders. At the end, all participants come together for a brief wrap-up.

Those who are interested in participating are encouraged to preregister and borrow the reading selections and theme brochure by calling Harbour Winn at (405) 208-5472, e-mailing him at [email protected] or dropping by the Dulaney-Browne Library room 211 or 207.

Hoklotubbe locates her mysteries in and around the Cherokee Nation in northeastern Oklahoma. Her heroine, Sadie Walela, inhabits both her Native culture and that of the larger society, encountering all-too-familiar stereotypes of Indians while trying to accommodate her own aspirations for success with a very real desire to have a husband and family.

In “The American Café,” Sadie has left the banking profession and purchased a small café in the town of Liberty. She renames it “The American Café” in memory of a restaurant her great aunt had once owned. The previous owner is brutally murdered and a local crazy woman levels an unloaded shotgun at Sadie shortly afterward. Sadie is then confronted by the former owner’s sister who knows the unique recipes of the café and takes over as cook. Helping out an old friend at the local bank leads her into more trouble, as she uncovers embezzlement by trusted townspeople. As one might expect, the murderer becomes dangerous once Sadie’s questioning comes uncomfortably close to the truth.

Winn, director of the Center for Interpersonal Study through Film & Literature at OCU, said the reading series moves beyond discussions of the story plotlines and into a cultural study of the places where the stories take place.

“Mystery and investigation stories find a ready home in Oklahoma and provide a window on the character of the state,” Winn said. “Though mainstream novels may evoke only scant physical description, crime stories and mysteries continue to include realistic location details, precisely because such details may help unravel the crime. In reading these novels, we can

rediscover the joys of hearing and seeing people in their natural environment and learn something about how where they are may indicate who they are.”

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