Marilyn Brown Novel Award
Arianne B. Cope
The Coming of Elijah
This year's $1000 Marilyn Brown Novel Award goes to a new writer,
Arianne B. Cope, for her work, The Coming of Elijah. This ambitious
and moving novel might be termed a feminine answer to Brady Udall's
story of a boy in the Indian Placement program, The Miracle Life of
This novel might seem ungainly in its ambition to chronicle nearly
five decades in the lives of a Native American woman and her
daughter; yet none of the judges would urge the writer to take on
anything less than this large arc of history and these often painfully
mixed and complicated characters, Anglo and Navajo.
The work has real gravity, and is bracingly--or even
scorchingly--unsparing in its attention to the sheer awfulness and
sense of deep cultural and spiritual betrayal, and despair, in the
life of a Navajo-Anglo working-class family in happy Utah Valley
through the last five decades, and to the larger problems that the
story of such a family reveals for a church that has aspired to
enlighten the lives of people of all ethnicities.
The story looks hard at the gulf between Elder Kimball's high hopes
and glowing reports on the Placement Program and actual cross-cultural
reality; and a reader may wonder why, since the excommunication and
disgrace of George P. Lee, the Church has been so silent about this
phase of its 20th Century history.
It may be hard for the writer to revise this book into a novel that
doesn't seem to have an ecclesiastical-political agenda, and yet, as
books like N. Scott Momaday's House Made of Dawn and Melanie Rae
Thon's Sweet Hearts demonstrate, it both can and should be done.