The Indian Lawyer

Overview

His shiny Saab and his finely tailored suits make Sylvester Yellow Calf's childhood unimaginable. Abandoned by his parents, he was raised in poverty on th Blackfoot reservation in Montana. Now a prominent lawyer, Sylvester moves between two worlds, feeling slightly out of place in each.

In the city, the possibilities of business and political success seem limitless for Sylvester, until the parole board on which he sits denies release to convict Jack Harwood. Bent on freedom, ...

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Overview

His shiny Saab and his finely tailored suits make Sylvester Yellow Calf's childhood unimaginable. Abandoned by his parents, he was raised in poverty on th Blackfoot reservation in Montana. Now a prominent lawyer, Sylvester moves between two worlds, feeling slightly out of place in each.

In the city, the possibilities of business and political success seem limitless for Sylvester, until the parole board on which he sits denies release to convict Jack Harwood. Bent on freedom, Harwood engineers a cunning scheme that threatens to ensnare Sylvester and destroy his career.

The Indian Lawyer is a vivid evocation of the American West and a provocative tale of the paradoxes of assimilation.

Raised in poverty on a Blackfeet reservation, prominent lawyer Sylvester Yellow Calf is now secure in the knowledge that his business and political success seems limitless--until a disgruntled convict, denied parole, threatens to destroy his career. A gripping suspense thriller . . . a complex psychological portrait."--San Francisco Chronicle.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Following his poetic, gripping evocation of Native American culture in Fools no apostrophe sss Crow , set in the 1800s, Welch returns to the contemporary scene with the tale of a man whose ascent from a Montana reservation into upper-middle-class society has all the elements of a classic success story--including a fall from grace. By dint of talent and hard work, Sylvester Yellow Knife has escaped the fate of most of his fellow Blackfeet. A college basketball star and graduate of Stanford Law School, he is at 35 a highly regarded lawyer in a prestigious Helena firm, about to declare his candidacy for Congress, where he hopes to help his people and assuage his guilt over having abandoned their poverty-stricken world. But when the prison parole board of which he is a member denies parole to a wily man desperate to end his incarceration, Sylvester becomes the target of a blackmailing scheme. Welch underscores the ironies in his hero's rise from the reservation by counterpointing the ways in which the convict squandered his considerable opportunities and ran his life downhill. Sylvester's growing doubts about assimilation and his need to identify with his Native American roots are counterpoised to his realization that he may be deprived of the opportunity to make a contribution on a national scale. The thriller elements of the plot are developed with credibility, and while the narrative lacks the hallucinatory power of Fools Crow , it is a convincing story of a man who almost loses his values and his soul. Oct.
School Library Journal
YA-- Sylvester Yellow Calf, a Blackfeet Indian lawyer, is a nontraditional character whose past and present worlds collide and then threaten to destroy him. Elements of fear are introduced in this thoughtful, evenly paced novel, not in the form of blood or violence, but rather by virtue of wrong decisions, unforeseen consequences, and the dread of loss. Yellow Calf is a fully realized character, a complex, self-made man who overcomes the adversities of parentage and poverty. He is on the verge of an unplanned political success when his very human, normal behavior in a seemingly insignificant incident sets in motion a fall from grace. Welch shifts the story's focus back and forth between a state prison and Helena, where Yellow Calf has created his own version of the American dream. His relationships with several different women add to the rich texture of the novel and provide the seeds for his undoing. As events threaten Yellow Calf's security, a fascinating third world unfolds: the reservation childhood he has tried to leave behind. It is from his past that Yellow Calf eventually finds the truth about himself and the strength to do the right thing. An absorbing psychological tale that should fascinate mature readers.-- Carolyn E. Gecan, Jefferson Sci-Tech, Alexandria, VA
Los Angeles Times Book Review
“A brilliant and haunting book.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140110524
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/28/1991
  • Series: Contemporary American Fiction Series
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.68 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Meet the Author

At the time of his death in 2003, James Welch was considered one of the most important authors of the American West. His books include Fool’s Crow and Winter in the Blood.

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