You Who Enter Here

By Erika T. Wurth

Subjects: Fiction, Indigenous Studies, Literature
Series: SUNY series, Native Traces, Excelsior Editions
Paperback : 9781438473161, 248 pages, March 2019

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A beautifully rendered, brutally realistic Native American gang novel.


Finalist for the 2020 Colorado Book Award in the Literary Fiction category presented by the Colorado Center for the Book
Finalist for the 2019 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award in the Multicultural (Adult Fiction) category
2020 In the Margins Top Ten and Fiction Recommendation

Matthew has grown up in hell. His father is gone, and his mother drinks and hooks up with men who abuse Matthew and his sister. He finally decides to hit the streets of Farmington to get away and to drink himself to death—in his mind, his destiny. He meets Chris, who saves him, takes him home, cleans him up, gets him sober, and initiates Matthew into one of Albuquerque's Native American gangs, the 505s. The 505s have been around for generations. They now sell heroin, and it's their subservience to the Mexican gangs that has allowed them to survive. However, Chris decides that his little Native American gang deserves to be as big as the Mexican gangs in Albuquerque, bringing in new business from deep inside Indigenous communities in Mexico. Then, Matthew falls in love with Chris's girlfriend. Matthew's story is one of terrible darkness, but also, unexpected beauty and tenderness.

Erika T. Wurth is Professor of Creative Writing at Western Illinois University. She is the author of one previous novel, Crazy Horse's Girlfriend; two collections of poetry, Indian Trains and A Thousand Horses Out to Sea; and a collection of short stories, Buckskin Cocaine. She is Apache/Chickasaw/Cherokee and was raised outside of Denver.


"A dark story of crime, addiction, and homelessness among young Native Americans whose only escape is by way of the grave … The book is spattered with violence and its aftereffects, but not a bit seems out of place. Expertly told; a well-crafted portrait of lives lived without hope in the shadow of death. " — Kirkus Reviews

"…a striking, heartbreaking blend of romance and violence … Wurth's style is rare and strange. She uses common words and fairly ordinary syntax, but something about the way she arranges sentences renders the prose urgent. She communicates complex ideas in deceptively simple words, and she fearlessly subjects her characters to heartbreak and horror … a darkly splendid achievement. " — Fanzine

"You Who Enter Here is like nothing so much as a metal splinter, brilliant and sharp, that works its way through your veins and right into your beating heart. Erika Wurth is a beautiful writer, and You Who Enter Here is a bloody and catastrophically heartbreaking masterpiece. " — Benjamin Whitmer, author of Cry Father

"Get ready to experience a jaw-dropping, heart-pounding ride. You Who Enter Here escorts Erika Wurth into her own brand of Native noir, an electrifying read you won't forget. Wurth's characters haunt the underbelly of crime fiction and lure you in. Harrowing, wicked, and utterly compelling. I couldn't put this book down. " — Debra Magpie Earling, author of Perma Red

"You Who Enter Here is subversive and beautiful as hell because Erika Wurth and her characters do the radical work of loving the people often deemed unworthy of love: the thugs, hood rats, gangstas, the junkies. And she loves them on their terms, for who they are in the dark, while acknowledging the complicated knots of circumstance, choice, and survival. This novel isn't operating on our ignorant views of Native People, but following the rules of its own world and people—another form of radical love. I feel wide open and moved to love harder and listen better, and I am sure, Dear Reader, you will feel the same. " — Steven Dunn, author of Potted Meat