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The Round House

by

The Round House Cover

ISBN13: 9780062065247
ISBN10: 0062065246
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Awards

Staff Pick

Exploring themes of crime, justice, and revenge, Erdrich spins a tale of the brutal rape of a Native American woman who lives on a reservation in North Dakota. When 13-year-old Joe's mother is raped and very nearly murdered, he watches as his family disintegrates into something completely foreign. Because his mother doesn't know exactly where she was during the attack, there is no clear road to justice. Was the crime perpetrated by a white or Native American man? Was the crime committed on tribal lands or not? Justice, unfortunately divided by white/non-white and tribal/non-tribal distinctions, often leaves Native American victims with absolutely no recourse at all. Or is there? Crushed by the horrific situation (further complicated by subsequent events) and tortured by the freedom of his mother's rapist, Joe begins to contemplate his own vision of justice. Threaded throughout with exquisite Native American stories, with an explosive climax and a shocking ending, The Round House is an amazing look at a group of people who are resilient beyond imagination.
Recommended by Dianah, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

One of the most revered novelists of our time — a brilliant chronicler of Native-American life — Louise Erdrich returns to the territory of her bestselling, Pulitzer Prize finalist The Plague of Doves with The Round House, transporting readers to the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. It is an exquisitely told story of a boy on the cusp of manhood who seeks justice and understanding in the wake of a terrible crime that upends and forever transforms his family. Riveting and suspenseful, arguably the most accessible novel to date from the creator of Love Medicine, The Beet Queen, and The Bingo Palace, Erdrich's The Round House is a page-turning masterpiece of literary fiction — at once a powerful coming-of-age story, a mystery, and a tender, moving novel of family, history, and culture.

Review:

"Erdrich, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, sets her newest (after Shadow Tag) in 1988 in an Ojibwe community in North Dakota; the story pulses with urgency as she probes the moral and legal ramifications of a terrible act of violence. When tribal enrollment expert Geraldine Coutts is viciously attacked, her ordeal is made even more devastating by the legal ambiguities surrounding the location and perpetrator of the assault — did the attack occur on tribal, federal, or state land? Is the aggressor white or Indian? As Geraldine becomes enveloped by depression, her husband, Bazil (the tribal judge), and their 13-year-old son, Joe, try desperately to identify her assailant and bring him to justice. The teen quickly grows frustrated with the slow pace of the law, so Joe and three friends take matters into their own hands. But revenge exacts a tragic price, and Joe is jarringly ushered into an adult realm of anguished guilt and ineffable sadness. Through Joe's narration, which is by turns raunchy and emotionally immediate, Erdrich perceptively chronicles the attack's disastrous effect on the family's domestic life, their community, and Joe's own premature introduction to a violent world. Agent: Andrew Wiley." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review:

"A stunning and devastating tale of hate crimes and vengeance...Erdrich covers a vast spectrum of history, cruel loss, and bracing realizations. A preeminent tale in an essential American saga." Donna Seaman, Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"Erdrich skillfully makes Joe's coming-of-age both universal and specific...the story is also ripe with detail about reservation life, and with her rich cast of characters, Erdrich provides flavor, humor and depth. Joe's relationship with his father, Bazil, a judge, has echoes of To Kill a Mockingbird." Library Journal (Starred Review)

Review:

"Erdrich threads a gripping mystery and multilayered portrait of a community through a deeply affecting coming-of-age novel." Karen Holt, O, the Oprah Magazine

Review:

"A sweeping, suspenseful outing from this prizewinning, generation-spanning chronicler of her Native American people, the Ojibwe of the northern plains...a sumptuous tale." Elle

Review:

"Moving, complex, and surprisingly uplifting...likely to be dubbed the Native American To Kill a Mockingbird." Parade, Fall's Best Books

Review:

"Riveting....One of Erdrich's most suspenseful novels....It vividly portrays both the deep tragedy and crazy comedy of life." BookPage, Cover/Feature Review

Review:

"One can only marvel...at Erdrich's amazing ability to do what so few of us can — shape words into phrases and sentences of incomparable beauty that, then, pour forth a mesmerizing story." USA Today

Synopsis:

One Sunday in the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface as Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. In one day, Joe's life is irrevocably transformed. He tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. Increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world for which he is ill prepared.

While his father, who is a tribal judge, endeavors to wrest justice from a situation that defies his efforts, Joe becomes frustrated with the official investigation and sets out with his trusted friends, Cappy, Zack, and Angus, to get some answers of his own. Their quest takes them first to the Round House, a sacred space and place of worship for the Ojibwe. And this is only the beginning.

Written with undeniable urgency, and illuminating the harsh realities of contemporary life in a community where Ojibwe and white live uneasily together, The Round House is a brilliant and entertaining novel, a masterpiece of literary fiction. Louise Erdrich embraces tragedy, the comic, a spirit world very much present in the lives of her all-too-human characters, and a tale of injustice that is, unfortunately, an authentic reflection of what happens in our own world today.

About the Author

Louise Erdrich lives with her family in Minnesota and is the owner of Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore. Ms. Erdrich is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, and this story — which will, in the end, span one hundred years in the life of an Ojibwe woman — was inspired when Ms. Erdrich and her mother, Rita Gourneau Erdrich, were researching their own family history. Chickadee begins a new part of the story that started with The Birchbark House, a National Book Award finalist; The Game of Silence, winner of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction; and the acclaimed The Porcupine Year.

Ms. Erdrich is also the bestselling author of many critically acclaimed novels for adults, including the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Plague of Doves and National Book Award finalist The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. She is also the author of the picture book Grandmother's Pigeon, illustrated by Jim LaMarche.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 37 comments:

vzwick, April 12, 2013 (view all comments by vzwick)
Unforgettable, brilliantly written, horrific, hilarious, deeply moving, educational, sad, heart warming and hopeful, The Round House is my favorite book of this year. Erdrich creates characters that become so real to me that I know them like long lost friends. And there are a lot of characters -- each different and each wholly developed. Sometimes the story meanders but the characters are still there to delight. It is a very difficult story to take about a 13 year old Ojibwe boy whose mother is brutally raped. His father is a judge and tries to get justice for his beloved wife, himself, and his son but is handicapped by the conflicting laws -- federal, state, and tribal. The boy is the narrator and so we absorb the story from his point of view. Thankfully it is interspersed with lighter, sometimes genuinely hilarious moments -- I laughed out loud twice, and with history and interpretation of Indian law, mythology, and magic realism.

The Round House is reminiscent of To Kill A Mockingbird in its portrayal of family love and in the quality of writing. It is probably the best written book I've read in years. I highly recommend it!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(0 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
planetnomad5, January 31, 2013 (view all comments by planetnomad5)
Joe has just turned 13 in the summer of 1988, on a hot Sunday afternoon during which his father takes a nap and he sits and reads his father’s law book. When they realize that Geraldine, Joe’s mother, hasn’t come home, they are both unnerved. She arrives home and can’t get out of her car, sitting frozen and shaken. She’s covered in blood and urine and reeking of gasoline, refusing to speak, except to make sure Joe knows she’s okay. However she is obviously not okay. Once home from the hospital, she takes to her bed and refuses to leave it, slipping away from them into her own dark place. Frantic with worry, her husband and son turn to each other and away from each other in the manner of all people when tragedy strikes. Joe finds himself increasingly alone, wanting desperately to return his family to how they were before the attack, taking on a parental role and seeking to protect his mother and even his father from further harm of any kind.
Her attack rips open the small tight-knit Ojibwe community, located on the edge of the “rez” where people interact with various white landowners and shopkeepers. As Joe begins to search for answers, he learns new questions as long-forgotten resentments and past sins begin to bubble to the surface. His mother is in charge of the tribal census and his father is a Judge and they obviously know or suspect more than they’re telling him. He’s a teenage boy, and he and his 3 close friends get into all sorts of trouble as they come up with improbable ideas and explore them. He identifies the place of the attack, the Round House, which is a spiritual and cultural center for his people, and he begins to hear more of the origins of the building from his grandfather.
Geraldine’s attacker put a bag over her head, and she isn’t sure whether the rape took place on tribal land or federal land. The law is different in each case, and even though she identifies her rapist and there is a clear-cut case against him, he is released from prison because Indians don’t have the right to prosecute non-Indians who commit crimes on their land. If she can’t prove it was non-tribal land, she has no case against him. Geraldine wonders herself why she doesn’t lie, claim to have identified the land as non-tribal, but she can’t--her husband and child would know she was lying. And even though they would forgive her and support her, she clings to her integrity. A local priest describes sins that “cry out to Heaven for justice,” and the phrase resonates like a bell, and gives Joe both the direction he seeks and justification for what he feels is right.
In many ways, this is a coming of age story. We enter into the heads of Joe and his close friends/cousins Cappy, Angus and Zack, into their loves and lusts and dreams. They sneak around behind their parents’ backs, ride their bikes for miles, even steal a car at one point. They’re pain-filled and pain-free, invincible, heart-broken and lost all in one. But, you feel, as long as they have each other, they’ll survive. There are many comic touches, as Erdrich’s deft touch with dialogue and character brings people to life.
The Round House is exquisitely written. I read a LOT of books, and this one really stood out for me--one of our best writers, writing at the top of her form. Highly, highly recommended.
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(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
vee.9, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by vee.9)
Young teen Joe works religiously to collect evidence in the brutal rape of his beloved mother. Beautifully written, based on reservation life in North Dakota.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780062065247
Author:
Erdrich, Louise
Publisher:
Harper
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20121031
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 1.09 in 18 oz

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Featured Titles » National Book Award Winners
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Fiction and Poetry » Popular Fiction » Suspense

The Round House Used Hardcover
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$10.95 In Stock
Product details 336 pages Harper - English 9780062065247 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Exploring themes of crime, justice, and revenge, Erdrich spins a tale of the brutal rape of a Native American woman who lives on a reservation in North Dakota. When 13-year-old Joe's mother is raped and very nearly murdered, he watches as his family disintegrates into something completely foreign. Because his mother doesn't know exactly where she was during the attack, there is no clear road to justice. Was the crime perpetrated by a white or Native American man? Was the crime committed on tribal lands or not? Justice, unfortunately divided by white/non-white and tribal/non-tribal distinctions, often leaves Native American victims with absolutely no recourse at all. Or is there? Crushed by the horrific situation (further complicated by subsequent events) and tortured by the freedom of his mother's rapist, Joe begins to contemplate his own vision of justice. Threaded throughout with exquisite Native American stories, with an explosive climax and a shocking ending, The Round House is an amazing look at a group of people who are resilient beyond imagination.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Erdrich, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, sets her newest (after Shadow Tag) in 1988 in an Ojibwe community in North Dakota; the story pulses with urgency as she probes the moral and legal ramifications of a terrible act of violence. When tribal enrollment expert Geraldine Coutts is viciously attacked, her ordeal is made even more devastating by the legal ambiguities surrounding the location and perpetrator of the assault — did the attack occur on tribal, federal, or state land? Is the aggressor white or Indian? As Geraldine becomes enveloped by depression, her husband, Bazil (the tribal judge), and their 13-year-old son, Joe, try desperately to identify her assailant and bring him to justice. The teen quickly grows frustrated with the slow pace of the law, so Joe and three friends take matters into their own hands. But revenge exacts a tragic price, and Joe is jarringly ushered into an adult realm of anguished guilt and ineffable sadness. Through Joe's narration, which is by turns raunchy and emotionally immediate, Erdrich perceptively chronicles the attack's disastrous effect on the family's domestic life, their community, and Joe's own premature introduction to a violent world. Agent: Andrew Wiley." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "A stunning and devastating tale of hate crimes and vengeance...Erdrich covers a vast spectrum of history, cruel loss, and bracing realizations. A preeminent tale in an essential American saga."
"Review" by , "Erdrich skillfully makes Joe's coming-of-age both universal and specific...the story is also ripe with detail about reservation life, and with her rich cast of characters, Erdrich provides flavor, humor and depth. Joe's relationship with his father, Bazil, a judge, has echoes of To Kill a Mockingbird."
"Review" by , "Erdrich threads a gripping mystery and multilayered portrait of a community through a deeply affecting coming-of-age novel."
"Review" by , "A sweeping, suspenseful outing from this prizewinning, generation-spanning chronicler of her Native American people, the Ojibwe of the northern plains...a sumptuous tale."
"Review" by , "Moving, complex, and surprisingly uplifting...likely to be dubbed the Native American To Kill a Mockingbird."
"Review" by , "Riveting....One of Erdrich's most suspenseful novels....It vividly portrays both the deep tragedy and crazy comedy of life."
"Review" by , "One can only marvel...at Erdrich's amazing ability to do what so few of us can — shape words into phrases and sentences of incomparable beauty that, then, pour forth a mesmerizing story."
"Synopsis" by , One Sunday in the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface as Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. In one day, Joe's life is irrevocably transformed. He tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. Increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world for which he is ill prepared.

While his father, who is a tribal judge, endeavors to wrest justice from a situation that defies his efforts, Joe becomes frustrated with the official investigation and sets out with his trusted friends, Cappy, Zack, and Angus, to get some answers of his own. Their quest takes them first to the Round House, a sacred space and place of worship for the Ojibwe. And this is only the beginning.

Written with undeniable urgency, and illuminating the harsh realities of contemporary life in a community where Ojibwe and white live uneasily together, The Round House is a brilliant and entertaining novel, a masterpiece of literary fiction. Louise Erdrich embraces tragedy, the comic, a spirit world very much present in the lives of her all-too-human characters, and a tale of injustice that is, unfortunately, an authentic reflection of what happens in our own world today.

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