Louise Erdrich Pages: 333 Published:1984 (originally). Revised and expanded in 1993.
The book: This is the story of two families, the Kashpaws and the Lamartines. The novel follows the fortunes of different branches and generations of these families. It is mainly set on a reservation in North Dakota.
You might like it because: Erdrich’s writing is beautiful. She creates vivid pictures of her characters and the places they live. This story focuses on relationships and the ties of family.
What did other people say?
“There are at least a dozen of the many vividly drawn people in this first novel who will not leave the mind once they are let in. Their power comes from Louise Erdrich’s mastery of words…Every detail in this novel counts.”– New York Times
“A dazzling series of family portraits … This novel is simply about the power of love.”- Chicago Tribune
Awards & Recognition:
National Book Critics Award 1984
How quickly will you get into the book?
Erdrich’s writing is compelling. By page three, she pulled me straight in with the first character she writes about.
You might not like it because: It’s pretty dark. There’s a lot of tragedy and family disfunction. There aren’t many happy endings. In addition, despite Erdrich providing a visual guide of the ties between people and families at the beginning of the book, it’s quite hard to keep track of who is who at times.
What might you read next?
In a 2009 interview for the National Endowment for the Arts, Erdrich said, “There are over 560 federally recognized tribes in the United States. If anything, I just hope someone goes and opens up another book by another Native writer after this.”
So, if you want to follow Erdrich’s suggestion, read N. Scott Momaday’s House Made of Dawn, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1969.
Or, alternatively, read a novel by an indigenous Canadian writer, Katherena Vermette, The Break.
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