||2013 Powell's Staff Top 5s
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/nontribal 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 H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Washington Post Best Book of the Year
New York Times Notable Book
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 because 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, 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.
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.
"One of the most pleasurable aspects of Erdrich's writing...is that while her narratives are loose and sprawling, the language is always tight and poetically compressed...In the end there's nothing, not the arresting plot or the shocking ending of THE ROUND HOUSE, that resonates as much as the characters." San Francisco Chronicle
"Wise and suspenseful...Erdrich's voice as well as her powers of insight and imagination fully infuse this novel....She writes so perceptively and brilliantly about the adolescent passion for justice that one is transported northward to her home territory." Chicago Tribune
"The novel showcases her [Erdrich's] extraordinary ability to delineate the ties of love, resentment, need, duty and sympathy that bind families together...[a] powerful novel worth reading." Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
"Erdrich has given us a multitude of narrative voices and stories. Never before has she given us a novel with a single narrative voice so smart, rich and full of surprises as she has in The Round House...and, I would argue, her best so far." NPR/All Thing's Considered
About the Author
Louise Erdrich is the author of fifteen novels as well as volumes of poetry, children's books, short stories, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her novel The Round House won the National Book Award for Fiction. The Plague of Doves won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and her debut novel, Love Medicine, was the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. Erdrich has received the Library of Congress Prize in American Fiction, the prestigious PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. She lives in Minnesota with her daughters and is the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore.