The Round House

The Round House

3.9 197
by Louise Erdrich
     
 

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The Round House won the National Book Award for fiction.

One of the most revered novelists of our time—a brilliant chronicler of Native-American life—Louise Erdrich returns to the territory of her bestselling, Pulitzer Prize finalist The Plague of Doves with The Round House, transporting readers to the Ojibwe reservation

Overview

The Round House won the National Book Award for fiction.

One of the most revered novelists of our time—a brilliant chronicler of Native-American life—Louise Erdrich returns to the territory of her bestselling, Pulitzer Prize finalist The Plague of Doves with The Round House, transporting readers to the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. It is an exquisitely told story of a boy on the cusp of manhood who seeks justice and understanding in the wake of a terrible crime that upends and forever transforms his family.

Riveting and suspenseful, arguably the most accessible novel to date from the creator of Love Medicine, The Beet Queen, and The Bingo Palace, Erdrich’s The Round House is a page-turning masterpiece of literary fiction—at once a powerful coming-of-age story, a mystery, and a tender, moving novel of family, history, and culture.

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
Book by book, over the past three decades, Louise Erdrich has built one of the most moving and engrossing collections of novels in American literature…Joe is an incredibly endearing narrator, full of urgency and radiant candor…and the story he tells transforms a sad, isolated crime into a revelation about how maturity alters our relationship with our parents, delivering us into new kinds of love and pain.
—Michael Dirda
The New York Times Book Review
The Round House represents something of a departure for Erdrich, whose past novels of Indian life have usually relied on a rotating cast of narrators, a kind of storytelling chorus. Here, though, Joe is the only narrator, and the urgency of his account gives the action the momentum and tight focus of a crime novel, which, in a sense, it is. But for Erdrich, The Round House is also a return to form. Joe's voice…recalls that of Judge Antone Bazil Coutts, one of the narrators of Erdrich's masterly novel The Plague of Doves. That's appropriate because Joe is the judge's son…If The Round House is less sweeping and symphonic than The Plague of Doves, it is just as riveting. By boring deeply into one person's darkest episode, Erdrich hits the bedrock truth about a whole community.
—Maria Russo
The New York Times
…the novel showcases [Erdrich's] extraordinary ability to delineate the ties of love, resentment, need, duty and sympathy that bind families together…It is Joe's story that lies at the heart of this book, and Joe's story that makes this flawed but powerful novel worth reading.
—Michiko Kakutani
Publishers Weekly
Erdrich, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, sets her newest (after Shadow Tag) in 1988 in an Ojibwe community in North Dakota; the story pulses with urgency as she probes the moral and legal ramifications of a terrible act of violence. When tribal enrollment expert Geraldine Coutts is viciously attacked, her ordeal is made even more devastating by the legal ambiguities surrounding the location and perpetrator of the assault—did the attack occur on tribal, federal, or state land? Is the aggressor white or Indian? As Geraldine becomes enveloped by depression, her husband, Bazil (the tribal judge), and their 13-year-old son, Joe, try desperately to identify her assailant and bring him to justice. The teen quickly grows frustrated with the slow pace of the law, so Joe and three friends take matters into their own hands. But revenge exacts a tragic price, and Joe is jarringly ushered into an adult realm of anguished guilt and ineffable sadness. Through Joe’s narration, which is by turns raunchy and emotionally immediate, Erdrich perceptively chronicles the attack’s disastrous effect on the family’s domestic life, their community, and Joe’s own premature introduction to a violent world. Agent: Andrew Wiley. (Oct.)
Elle
“A sweeping, suspenseful outing from this prizewinning, generation-spanning chronicler of her Native American people, the Ojibwe of the northern plains...a sumptuous tale.”
Entertainment Weekly
“A gripping mystery with a moral twist: Revenge might be the harshest punishment, but only for the victims. A-”
USA Today
“THE ROUND HOUSE is filled with stunning language that recalls shades of Faulkner, García Márquez and Toni Morrison. Deeply moving, this novel ranks among Erdrich’s best work, and it is impossible to forget.”
Philadelphia Inquirer
“Erdrich never shields the reader or Joe from the truth…She writes simply, without flourish.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“An artfully balanced mystery, thriller and coming-of-age story…this novel will have you reading at warp speed to see what happens next.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Erdrich’s bittersweet contemplation of love and friendship, morality and generativity…result in a tender, tough coming-of-age tale.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“One of the most pleasurable aspects of Erdrich’s writing…is that while her narratives are loose and sprawling, the language is always tight and poetically compressed…In the end there’s nothing, not the arresting plot or the shocking ending of THE ROUND HOUSE, that resonates as much as the characters.”
Chicago Tribune
“Wise and suspenseful…Erdrich’s voice as well as her powers of insight and imagination fully infuse this novel…She writes so perceptively and brilliantly about the adolescent passion for justice that one is transported northward to her home territory.”
Miami Herald
“Joe may be one of Erdrich’s best-drawn characters; he’s conflicted, feisty one moment, scared and disappointed the next. THE ROUND HOUSE will inevitably draw comparisons to Harper Lee’s TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD…”
Austin American-Statesman
“Louise Erdrich’s prose is spare, precise, smooth as polished stone. Her books are rich with literary muscle.” -Austin American-Statesman
Seattle Times
“The story draws the reader unstoppably page by page.”
Reader's Digest
“While Erdrich is known as a brilliant chronicler of the American Indian experience, her insights into our family, community, and spiritual lives transcend any category.”
NPR/All Thing's Considered
“Erdrich has given us a multitude of narrative voices and stories. Never before has she given us a novel with a single narrative voice so smart, rich and full of surprises as she has in The Round House…and, I would argue, her best so far.”
People
“Haunting…a bittersweet coming-of-age tale…tender but unsentimental and buoyed by subtle wit”
the Oprah Magazine O
“Poignant and surprisingly funny, it’s the acclaimed writer’s best book yet.”
Fall's Best Books Parade
“Moving, complex, and surprisingly uplifting…likely to be dubbed the Native American TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD”
Cover/Feature Review - BookPage
"Riveting…One of Erdrich’s most suspenseful novels.... It vividly portrays both the deep tragedy and crazy comedy of life."
Karen Holt
“Erdrich threads a gripping mystery and multilayered portrait of a community through a deeply affecting coming-of-age novel.”
Donna Seaman
“A stunning and devastating tale of hate crimes and vengeance…Erdrich covers a vast spectrum of history, cruel loss, and bracing realizations. A preeminent tale in an essential American saga.”
Cover/Feature Review BookPage
“Riveting…One of Erdrich’s most suspenseful novels.... It vividly portrays both the deep tragedy and crazy comedy of life.”
Ron Charles
“Emotionally compelling…Joe is an incredibly endearing narrator, full of urgency and radiant candor…the story he tells transforms a sad, isolated crime into a revelation about how maturity alters our relationship with our parents, delivering us into new kinds of love and pain.”
Maria Russo
“…a powerful human story…By boring deeply into one person’s darkest episode, Erdrich hits the bedrock truth about a whole community.”
Susan Salter Reynolds
“THE ROUND HOUSE is a stunning piece of architecture. It is carefully, lovingly, disarmingly constructed. Even the digressions demand strict attention.”
Michiko Kakutani
“The novel showcases her [Erdrich’s] extraordinary ability to delineate the ties of love, resentment, need, duty and sympathy that bind families together…[a] powerful novel.”
Jane Ciabattari
“Each new Erdrich novel adds new layers of pathos and comedy, earthiness and spiritual questing, to her priceless multigenerational drama. THE ROUND HOUSE is one of her best — concentrated, suspenseful, and morally profound.”
Parade
“Moving, complex, and surprisingly uplifting…likely to be dubbed the Native American TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD”
All Thing's Considered - NPR
"Erdrich has given us a multitude of narrative voices and stories. Never before has she given us a novel with a single narrative voice so smart, rich and full of surprises as she has in The Round House…and, I would argue, her best so far."
People Magazine
"Haunting…a bittersweet coming-of-age tale…tender but unsentimental and buoyed by subtle wit"
NPR: All Thing's Considered
“Erdrich has given us a multitude of narrative voices and stories. Never before has she given us a novel with a single narrative voice so smart, rich and full of surprises as she has in The Round House…and, I would argue, her best so far.”
O: the Oprah Magazine
“Poignant and surprisingly funny, it’s the acclaimed writer’s best book yet.”
New York Times Book Review
“A powerful human story…By boring deeply into one person’s darkest episode, Erdrich hits the bedrock truth about a whole community.”
Newsday
“THE ROUND HOUSE is a stunning piece of architecture. It is carefully, lovingly, disarmingly constructed. Even the digressions demand strict attention.”
Library Journal
Set on an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota in 1988, Erdrich's 14th novel focuses on 13-year-old Joseph. After his mother is brutally raped yet refuses to speak about the experience, Joe must not only cope with her slow physical and mental recovery but also confront his own feelings of anger and helplessness. Questions of jurisdiction and treaty law complicate matters. Doubting that justice will be served, Joe enlists his friends to help investigate the crime. VERDICT Erdrich skillfully makes Joe's coming-of-age both universal and specific. Like many a teenage boy, he sneaks beer with his buddies, watches Star Trek: The Next Generation, and obsesses about sex. But the story is also ripe with detail about reservation life, and with her rich cast of characters, from Joe's alcoholic and sometimes violent uncle Whitey and his former-stripper girlfriend Sonja, to the ex-marine priest Father Travis and the gleefully lewd Grandma Thunder, Erdrich provides flavor, humor, and depth. Joe's relationship with his father, Bazil, a judge, has echoes of To Kill a Mockingbird, as Bazil explains to his son why he continues to seek justice despite roadblocks to prosecuting non-Indians. Recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 4/23/12.]—Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis
Kirkus Reviews
Erdrich returns to the North Dakota Ojibwe community she introduced in The Plague of Doves (2008)--akin but at a remove from the community she created in the continuum of books from Love Medicine to The Red Convertible--in this story about the aftermath of a rape. Over a decade has passed. Geraldine and Judge Bazil Coutts, who figured prominently in the earlier book, are spending a peaceful Sunday afternoon at home. While Bazil naps, Geraldine, who manages tribal enrollment, gets a phone call. A little later she tells her 13-year-old son, Joe, she needs to pick up a file in her office and drives away. When she returns hours later, the family's idyllic life and Joe's childhood innocence are shattered. She has been attacked and raped before escaping from a man who clearly intended to kill her. She is deeply traumatized and unwilling to identify the assailant, but Bazil and Joe go through Bazil's case files, looking for suspects, men with a grudge against Bazil, who adjudicates cases under Native American jurisdiction, most of them trivial. Joe watches his parents in crisis and resolves to avenge the crime against his mother. But it is summer, so he also hangs out with his friends, especially charismatic, emotionally precocious Cappy. The novel, told through the eyes of a grown Joe looking back at himself as a boy, combines a coming-of-age story (think Stand By Me) with a crime and vengeance story while exploring Erdrich's trademark themes: the struggle of Native Americans to maintain their identity; the legacy of the troubled, unequal relationship between Native Americans and European Americans, a relationship full of hatred but also mutual dependence; the role of the Catholic Church within a Native American community that has not entirely given up its own beliefs or spirituality. Favorite Erdrich characters like Nanapush and Father Damien make cameo appearances. This second novel in a planned trilogy lacks the breadth and richness of Erdrich at her best, but middling Erdrich is still pretty great.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062065261
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/02/2012
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
11,853
Lexile:
790L (what's this?)
File size:
954 KB

What People are saying about this

Michiko Kakutani
“The novel showcases her [Erdrich’s] extraordinary ability to delineate the ties of love, resentment, need, duty and sympathy that bind families together…[a] powerful novel worth reading.”
Susan Salter Reynolds
“THE ROUND HOUSE is a stunning piece of architecture. It is carefully, lovingly, disarmingly constructed. Even the digressions demand strict attention.”
Ron Charles
“Emotionally compelling…Joe is an incredibly endearing narrator, full of urgency and radiant candor…the story he tells transforms a sad, isolated crime into a revelation about how maturity alters our relationship with our parents, delivering us into new kinds of love and pain.”
Karen Holt
“Erdrich threads a gripping mystery and multilayered portrait of a community through a deeply affecting coming-of-age novel.”
Maria Russo
“…a powerful human story…By boring deeply into one person’s darkest episode, Erdrich hits the bedrock truth about a whole community.”
Donna Seaman
“A stunning and devastating tale of hate crimes and vengeance…Erdrich covers a vast spectrum of history, cruel loss, and bracing realizations. A preeminent tale in an essential American saga.”

Meet the Author

Louise Erdrich is the author of fifteen novels as well as volumes of poetry, children’s books, short stories, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her novel The Round House won the National Book Award for Fiction. The Plague of Doves won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and her debut novel, Love Medicine, was the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. Erdrich has received the Library of Congress Prize in American Fiction, the prestigious PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. She lives in Minnesota with her daughters and is the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date of Birth:
June 7, 1954
Place of Birth:
Little Falls, Minnesota
Education:
B.A., Dartmouth College, 1976; M.A., Johns Hopkins University, 1979

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