Some examples of my work.
Sins of Our Fathers
- Finalist, Los Angeles Times Book Prize
Winner, NE Minnesota Book Award
Starred Review in Publishers Weekly
- "A literary tour de force.”
—Joel Surnow, creator of 24
- "Sins of Our Fathers is the Russian nesting doll of crime novels. An arson inside an embezzlement inside an assault inside a banking scheme, all the way down to the core of the book, which is an unflinching look at America’s original sin: five hundred years of physical and spiritual violence against Native peoples, both on and off the reservation. Crimes that made our country."
—Attica Locke, author of Black Water Rising
- “A master class...one key to the effectiveness of Otto’s novel is how cannily he shows the ages-old exploitative methods at work today.”
- "Sins of Our Fathers deserves to become a classic on par with To Kill a Mockingbird."
—J.D. Colbert, past president and CEO, Native American Bank and North American Native Bankers Association, and enrolled member of the Muscogee-Creek Nation
From the screenwriter and coproducer of the Oscar-nominated House of Sand and Fog comes "a fierce, elegant literary thriller" about race, money, and the American Dream.
A Thanksgiving dinner resolution: Let's invite Indians to the table today
While most Americas enjoy our Thanksgiving holiday, millions of descendants of those alive during that first Thanksgiving—Native Americans—still live in a legal and economic limbo, denied access to the same standards of criminal justice and economic opportunity the rest of us take for granted.
Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America
- Minnesota Book Award 2012
- Starr reviews in Kirkus and Publishers Weekly
- "One of the most important books published in America in the last decade."
- Starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Kirkus
The book traces how America was founded on and grew out of the principles of science,and yet how, ironically, today it has become politically acceptible to be anti-science. Otto traces the efforts of a group of top scientists and artists to get the candidates for president to debate the major science issues facing the country - a topic that once drove presidential politics but now few want to discuss.
Antiscience Beliefs Jeopardize U.S. Democracy
- Scientific American
- Best Columns, US, 2012
The United States faced down authoritarian governments on the left and right. Now it may be facing an even greater challenge from within. A stunning look at how and why American politics is going anti-science, and what we can do about it.
Complete with ratings of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney's answers to the Top 14 Science Questions Facing America, as posed by Shawn Otto and ScienceDebate.org.
Writers United for All Families: Seventeen Readings on Love and Liberty
In one of the most remarkable author readings ever held, seventeen award-winning authors wrote and read original short works on why everyone from liberals to libertarians should oppose restriction of gay marriage. The event was so special, and produced so many sparkling and varying perspectives, that the writers were asked to collect their works in a volume to share. This collection of original poems and essays includes works by Lois West Duffy * Jacque Fletcher * Michael Hall * Nor Hall * Patricia Hampl * Greg Hewett * Marya Hornbacher * Kathryn Kysar * Jim Lenfestey * Jim Moore * Darby Nelson * Shawn Lawrence Otto * John Reimringer * Kate St Vincent Vogl * Kurtis Scaletta * Don Shelby * Faith Sullivan * RD Zimmerman. Edited by Shawn Lawrence Otto. Profits from sales are donated to efforts supporting marriage equality.
House of Sand and Fog
- Feature Film
- Nominated for three Academy Awards
PEN Center finalist for Best Screenplay
Starring Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Connelley; written and co-produced by Shawn Lawrence Otto (adapted from the novel of the same name).
Massoud Amir Behrani, an Iranian immigrant, has spent most of his savings trying to enhance his daughter's chances of a good marriage. Once she is married, he spends the remaining funds on a house at an auction, hoping to flip it and restore his family's financial security. But the house was taken illegally by the county from an unstable woman who wants it back at any cost. What begins as a legal struggle turns into a personal confrontation over race, money and the American Dream, with tragic results.