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.
Listen to a NPR interview with the author HERE.
Browse through the book HERE.
"Louise Erdrich's latest novel , The Round House, is the story of a family whose lives have been turned upside down after a horrific crime with impact that ripples through their community, an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. Told through the voice of Joe, an adolescent who is catapulted from his boyhood innocence where he and his buddies devotedly identify with the characters of 'Star Trek: the Next Generation"-- into the all-too-real world of his father, a judge, whose job it is to navigate the infuriatingly ineffectual "justice" as experienced within the confines of Indian Law, and the challenging adult quandaries that ensue.
Attempts to pinpoint the perpetrator are, by turns, intricately complex, comic, terrifying, off-the-mark and deadly accurate, and soon Joe feels forced to be making decisions about taking the law into his own hands that he must keep to himself, though they keep involving others along the way. His attempts to root out the perpetrator and serve an elusive concept of justice bring him and others to extreme danger and result in a web of dizzying moral complexity that lays bare the range of human capacities in characters that must each continue on without means to fully share the truth of what has occurred.
Erdrich is a masterful storyteller who grabs the reader by the jugular and won't let go until, along with the small community of fascinating characters, one has been immersed in a reality that cannot be spoken of, and that alters one's assumptions and cherished ideas of how life is supposed to play out in subtle, yet overwhelming ways. Erdrich's exploration of the mysteries both disturbing and healing that permeate a world fraught with pain and beauty is nothing less than astonishing.
I didn't want the book to end, but fortunately there are several earlier novels I've yet to read..... and can't wait to! I'd also like to someday visit her little bookshop in Minneapolis, the 'Birch Bark', which I found out about while on YouTube investigating an interview about an earlier book, Shadow Tag, which I'm currently immersed in."