Presenter of the National Book Awards

2012 National Book Award Winner,
Fiction

Louise Erdrich

The Round House

Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers

The Round House, by Louise ErdrichLouise Erdrich, credit Paul Emmel

citation

In this haunting, powerful novel, Erdrich tells the story of a family and community nearly undone by violence. Using the quiet, reflective voice of a young boy forced into an early adulthood following a brutal assault on his mother, Erdrich has created an intricately layered novel that not only untangles our nation’s history of moral and judicial failure, but also offers a portrait of a community sustained by its traditions, values, faith, and stories.

About the Book

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. 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.

About the Author

Louise Erdrich is the author of fourteen novels as well as volumes of poetry, short stories, children's books, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her novel Love Medicine won the National Book Critics Circle Award. The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse was a finalist for the National Book Award. Most recently, The Plague of Doves won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Erdrich lives in Minnesota and is the owner of Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore.

Links

Louise Erdrich's Bookstore, Birchbark Books
> birchbarkbooks.com

Louise Erdrich's page on HarperCollins Publishers website
> http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/2905/Louise_Erdrich/index.aspx

AUDIO: In 'House,' Erdrich Sets Revenge On A Reservation
by NPR STAFF, All Things Considered
> www.npr.org/2012/10/02/162086064/in-house-erdrich-sets-revenge-on-a-reservation

The Burden of Justice: Louise Erdrich Talks About ‘The Round House’
By John Williams, The New York Times, Arts Beat
> artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com

EXCERPT

The Round House by Louise Erdrich, first 427 words

I was reading and drinking a glass of cool water in the kitchen when my father came out of his nap and entered, disoriented and yawning. For all its importance Cohen’s Handbook was not a heavy book and when he appeared I drew it quickly onto my lap, under the table. My father licked his dry lips and cast about, searching for the smell of food perhaps, the sound of pots or the clinking of glasses, or footsteps. What he said then surprised me, although on the face of it his words seem slight.

Where is your mother?

His voice was hoarse and dry. I slid the book on to another chair, rose, and handed him my glass of water. He gulped it down. He didn’t say those words again, but the two of us stared at each other in a way that struck me somehow as adult, as though he knew that by reading his law book I had inserted myself into his world. His look persisted until I dropped my eyes. I had actually just turned thirteen. Two weeks ago, I’d been twelve.

At work? I said, to break his gaze. I had assumed that he knew where she was, that he’d got the information when he phoned. I knew she was not really at work. She had answered a telephone call and then told me that she was going in to her office to pick up a folder or two. A tribal enrollment specialist, she was probably mulling over some petition she’d been handed. She was the head of a department of one. It was a Sunday—thus the hush. The Sunday afternoon suspension. Even if she’d gone to her sister Clemence’s house to visit afterward, Mom would have returned by now to start dinner. We both knew that. Women don’t realize how much store men set on the regularity of their habits. We absorb their comings and goings into our bodies, their rhythms into our bones. Our pulse is set to theirs, and as

always on a weekend afternoon we were waiting for my mother to start us ticking away on the evening.

And so, you see, her absence stopped time.

What should we do, we both said at once, which was again upsetting. But at least my father, seeing me unnerved, took charge. Let’s go find her, he said. And even then as I threw on my jacket, I was

glad that he was so definite—find her, not just look for her, not search. We would go out and find her.

From THE ROUND HOUSE by Louise Erdrich Copyright © 2012 by Louise Erdrich. Reprinted courtesy of Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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Photo credit: Paul Emmel