Day 7: A bittersweet coming of age tale wrapped in a mystery

Each day leading up to the April 13 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today we feature 2013 Novel & Short Story Finalist:

The Round House by Louise Erdrich The Round House by Louise Erdrich
Published by Harper/HarperCollins Publishers
Category Sponsor: Education Minnesota

In the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. 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. While his father, who is a tribal judge, endeavors to wrest justice from a situation that defies his efforts, Joe sets out to get some answers of his own. The quest takes him first to the Round House, a sacred space and place of worship for the Ojibwe. And this is only the beginning. Louise Erdrich’s novel 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.

 Excerpt from The Round House:

I was reading and drinking a glass of cool water in the kitchen when my father came out of his nap and entered, disoriented and yawning. For all its importance Cohen’s Handbook was not a heavy book and when he appeared I drew it quickly onto my lap, under the table. My father licked his dry lips and cast about, searching for the smell of food perhaps, the sound of pots or the clinking of glasses, or footsteps. What he said then surprised me, although on the face of it his words seem slight.

Where is your mother?

His voice was hoarse and dry. I slid the book on to another chair, rose, and handed him my glass of water. He gulped it down. He didn’t say those words again, but the two of us stared at each other in a way that struck me somehow as adult, as though he knew that by reading his law-book I had inserted myself into his world. His look persisted until I dropped my eyes. I had actually just turned thirteen. Two weeks ago, I’d been twelve.

Louise ErdrichFour-time Minnesota Book Award winner, Louise Erdrich is the author of thirteen novels—including The Round House which won the 2012 National Book Award for fiction—as well as volumes of poetry, short stories, children’s books, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her novel Love Medicine won the National Book Critics Circle Award. The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse was a finalist for the National Book Award. Most recently, The Plague of Doves won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Louise Erdrich lives in Minnesota and is the owner of Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore

Audio:

Listen to Louise Erdrich chat with MPR’s Carrie Miller on The Daily Circuit.

Video:

Watch as Erdrich talks about The Round House and the writing life with host Terry Tazioli on “Well Read,” the books-and-authors program on Seattle public access channel TVW:

Reviews:

“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.” — All Things Considered

“An artfully balanced mystery, thriller and coming-of-age story…this novel will have you reading at warp speed to see what happens next.” — Minneapolis Star Tribune

“The Round House represents something of a departure for Erdrich, whose past novels of Indian life have usually relied on a rotating cast of narrators, a kind of storytelling chorus. Here, though, Joe is the only narrator, and the urgency of his account gives the action the momentum and tight focus of a crime novel, which, in a sense, it is. But for Erdrich, The Round House is also a return to form. Joe’s voice…recalls that of Judge Antone Bazil Coutts, one of the narrators of Erdrich’s masterly novel The Plague of Doves. That’s appropriate because Joe is the judge’s son…If The Round House is less sweeping and symphonic than The Plague of Doves, it is just as riveting. By boring deeply into one person’s darkest episode, Erdrich hits the bedrock truth about a whole community.” — Maria Russo, The New York Times Book Review

Award winners will be announced at the 25th Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 13, 2013 at the Hilton Minneapolis. An author meet-and-greet and book signing reception precedes the awards ceremony, and the Epilogue after-party, sponsored by Tech Logic, includes complimentary champagne, desserts, and live music. Tickets on sale now. Click here for more information.

Have you read The Round House? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!

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Posted in Novel & Short Story
One comment on “Day 7: A bittersweet coming of age tale wrapped in a mystery
  1. ginapoet says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I really enjoy Louise Erdrich . . . it’s been a long time since I’ve read her.

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