Bowdoin Reads

Matt Klingle is reading...

The Round House
by Louise Erdrich

History matters in Louise Erdrich’s The Round House, winner of the 2012 National Book Award for fiction. The reasons are simple: to be Native in the United States is to live always with the complexities of the past. Set on an imaginary North Dakota Ojibwe reservation, the story grows from the boyhood memories of the main narrator, Joe Coutts, an elderly tribal judge, as he recalls the brutal rape of his mother. Frustrated at the inability of tribal and state authorities to find his mother’s assailant, Joe and his childhood friends launch their own investigation. Their pursuit for justice is the heart of the book. Yet The Round House is more than a simple crime story. A rotating cast of Joe’s family and friends, many of whom appear in her earlier books, deliver wry and often searing commentary on Native life. As in her previous novels, Erdrich, an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, has created art and not a lecture. The result is an imaginary world as authentic as any in American literature—and as true to the legacies of our nation’s past as any history text.

1 comment | Find in library

Submitted by cgreenle on Mon, 04/22/2013 - 3:53pm.
The Round House was in my audiobook queue (I have an hour-long daily commute), but your recommendation brought it to the top. As with last year's "Canada" by Richard Ford, I very much enjoyed the exploration of legal, family and community issues through the storytelling of an adolescent male. A great read - thanks for the tip.