Friday, November 16, 2012

Louise Erdrich Wins National Book Award for Fiction

Because I never manage to read all the shortlisted books, I do not normally spend much of my emotional energy pulling for a particular book to win the National Book Award for fiction.  But this year, probably because I just finished (and so much enjoyed), Louise Erdrich's The Round House, I was really rooting for it to win.  And it did!

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.


  1. We agree about so many bookish things - but not Louise Erdich LOL

  2. I as so delighted about her win! I read Love Medicine years ago, and really enjoyed it. I have heard so many good things about The Round House, so will be looking to read it soon. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it so much, and I'm looking forward to your review, Sam.

  3. Debbie, that's what makes book blogging so much fun...such a variety of readers, books, and opinions out there that I am fascinated by something new every day.

  4. Susan, I think this is Erdrich's most accessible book and that it will bring her to the attention of lots of new readers. It strikes me as a slightly different style for her this time around...perhaps, because of the subject matter?