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The Round Houseby Louise Erdrich
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.
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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.
"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)
"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)
"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
"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
"Moving, complex, and surprisingly uplifting...likely to be dubbed the Native American To Kill a Mockingbird." Parade, Fall's Best Books
"Riveting....One of Erdrich's most suspenseful novels....It vividly portrays both the deep tragedy and crazy comedy of life." BookPage, Cover/Feature 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
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.
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