David Heska Wanbli Weiden, an enrolled citizen of the Sicangu Lakota nation, was named by the New York Times as one of “the most critically acclaimed young novelists working now.” His debut novel, WINTER COUNTS, was called a “once-in-a-generation thriller” by the Los Angeles Times, a “worthy addition to the burgeoning canon of indigenous literature” by Library Journal, and one of the “best crime novels of all time” by Parade magazine. Weiden is the first Native American author to win an Anthony Award and the Thriller Award, and the second to be nominated for the Edgar Award. His short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and has been selected for Best American Mystery and Suspense Stories.
WINTER COUNTS (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2020; paperback, 2021), a national bestseller, is a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and was named one of the Best Books of the year by NPR, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, CrimeReads, Deadly Pleasures, Air Mail, Financial Times, The Guardian, Daily Express (UK), The Mirror (UK), Daily Record (UK), and other magazines. The book was also selected as an Amazon Best Book of 2020/Best Mystery and Thriller of the year; an Indie Next pick; and CrimeReads Best Noir Fiction, Best Debut, and Notable Selection for Best Crime Novel. The novel was a main selection of the Book of the Month Club, Best of the Month by Apple Books, and was the November choice of the BuzzFeed Book Club.
WINTER COUNTS is the story of a Native American enforcer on the Rosebud Indian Reservation who becomes obsessed with finding and stopping the dealer who is bringing increasingly dangerous drugs into his community. It’s a Native thriller, an examination of the broken criminal justice system on reservations, and a meditation on Native identity. WINTER COUNTS was nominated for the 2021 Edgar Award for Best First Novel, and is the winner of the Anthony, Thriller, Lefty, Barry, Macavity, CrimeFest (UK), and Crime Fiction Lover (UK) Awards for Best First Novel. The novel was also the winner of the Spur Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and Best First Novel, the High Plains Book Award for Indigenous Literature, the Tillie Olsen Award for Creative Writing, and the Electa Quinney Award for Native American Literature. The novel was also a finalist for these literary awards: the Hammett Prize, Shamus, VCU Cabell, Reading the West, Colorado Book Award, Goodreads Choice Awards, Book of the Year by Book of the Month Club, and the Prix des Lecteurs de la Ville de Vincennes.
The novel received rave/positive reviews from the New York Times, Publishers Weekly (starred and boxed), Library Journal, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Shelf Awareness, Booklist, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Denver Post, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, BookPage, Air Mail, LitHub, Crime Fiction Lover Magazine, Criminal Element, Fredricksburg Free-Lance Star, Colorado Sentinel, Deadly Pleasures, Crime Time, Mystery Scene, BOLO Books; Vol. 1 Brooklyn, South Florida Sun Sentinel, Rain Taxi, Santa Fe Lifestyles, Bookreporter, Lakota Times, Billings Gazette, Financial Times, The Guardian, Daily Express, New Zealand Listener, World Literature Today, Transmotion, and South Dakota Law Review.
It was mentioned as one of the year’s most anticipated books by O, the Oprah Magazine, USA Today, Washington Post, Time, Salon, CrimeReads, Library Journal, Mystery Tribune, BuzzFeed, The Rumpus, Electric Lit, Betches, Shondaland, Dandelion Chandelier, Popsugar, Debutiful, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Observer, Lit Hub, AARP Magazine, The Millions, The Writer, and Book Riot.
The book was published in the United Kingdom by Simon & Schuster UK. It was released in France by Gallmeister Editions and in Germany by Polar Verlag, and is being translated into Turkish, Polish, and Japanese. The novel has been optioned for film/TV production.
Weiden has published nonfiction in the New York Times, Shenandoah, and other journals, and short stories in a number of anthologies and magazines. His short story “Turning Heart” will appear in the 2022 Best American Mystery and Suspense Stories anthology. He’s also the author of the children’s book SPOTTED TAIL (Reycraft, 2019), a biography of the great Lakota leader and winner of the 2020 Spur Award from the Western Writers of America.
He teaches in the low-residency MFA programs at Regis University, the Pan-European MFA program at Cedar Crest College, and at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts, his law degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a MacDowell Fellow, 2022 Ucross Fellow, Sewanee Fellow, Tin House Scholar, Ragdale Foundation resident, Vermont Studio Center Fellow, VONA alumnus, and received the 2018 PEN/America Writing for Justice Fellowship. He’s an active member of the Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Writers of America, and also a member of the Dramatists Guild and Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers. He’s Professor of Native American Studies and Political Science at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and lives in Colorado with his family.
His last name, Weiden, is pronounced “Why-den.” Heska Wanbli is pronounced “Heh-ska Wahn-blee.” His nation, the Sicangu Lakota, is pronounced “See-chon-goo Lah-coat-ah.”
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