The Last of the Ofos
In this subtle but inventive novel, presented as Thomas's memoirs, Geary Hobson offers us a glimpse into a life filled with simple joys and sorrows. In relating his Louisiana childhood, Thomas recalls not just school-learning but being taught Indian ways by the small Ofo community. He tells of his life as a roustabout in the oil fields, of his courtship of the rambunctious Sally Fachette, and of his career as a bootlegger, which landed him in prison. We share Thomas's wartime stint with the Marines—where "for the first time in my life I was treated like a equal"—and his life as a farm laborer and a Hollywood extra portraying warbonneted Cheyennes. Then in his later years, when he truly has become the last of his kind, we find Thomas recruited by an anthropologist from the Smithsonian Institution to preserve his people's culture. In Washington, he is exposed to the vagaries of Indian policy and the emerging Native American movement.
Throughout Thomas's story, readers are introduced to a wide-ranging cast of characters, from the outlaws Bonnie and Clyde to a fellow Marine who is wary of Indians, to an uppity anthropologist who doesn't consider Thomas "expert" enough to handle an Ofo flute. Always poor in material wealth but rich in heritage, Thomas Darko is a Native American Everyman whose identity is shaped by family and homeland. His "autobiography" paints a realistic portrait of an Indian confronting the obstacles in his life and the dilemmas of his age as his story reveals the painful legacy of being the last of one's kind.
"A compassionate sketch, and deceptively simple quiet study, that manages to put a human face on the sadly logical outcome of a national history of genocide." —Kirkus Reviews
"An Indian version of Little Big Man. . . . A less disciplined writer would have spun out the story, and the emotions it contains, to several times the length of The Last of the Ofos, but Hobson has realized his material fully in this short novel without compacting or scanting it." —World Literature Today
"In all respects, The Last of the Ofos is a masterfully crafted tale, and Geary Hobson demonstrates why he is one of Native America's most powerful storytellers —Western American Literature
"Thomas Darko is an endearing and noble man in a novel by a skillful and wise writer." —Antioch Review
"Darko's tale is wonderful, and so convincing that I suspect many readers will forget it is fiction." —Multicultural Review