Friday, November 16, 2012
Louise Erdrich Wins National Book Award for Fiction
I have enjoyed reading Louise Erdrich since stumbling upon Tracks in 1988. After that one, I immediately ran out to find a copy of her 1984 National Book Critics Circle Award for best work of fiction, Love Medicine, and I have been a fan ever since.
Erdrich is an interesting, and very talented, writer. She is half Chippewa (her mother) and half German-American, and writes pretty much exclusively of the experiences of modern Native-Americans as they struggle for an identity in a country that still, often as not, treats them as second-class citizens - especially if they stay on the reservation.
The Round House is a memorable coming-of-age story of a boy who, although he is growing up inside the boundaries of a reservation, is the only child of one of the more prominent families on the reservation. But it is really the story of the boy's mother, a woman who suffers a brutal crime for which the legal system offers no remedy. Erdrich exposes and explores a legal question that still makes it difficult, in some cases, for Native-Americans to find justice in our legal system. I believe the jurisdictional problem Erdrich speaks of will surprise - and outrage - her readers.
Honestly, because I have only ever picked one other major book award award correctly, I did not expect The Round House to win. For that reason, my review is not quite ready for posting. I'll just say, for now, don't miss this one...more later.