The Sentence

The Sentence

by Louise Erdrich

Narrated by Louise Erdrich

Unabridged — 11 hours, 49 minutes

The Sentence

The Sentence

by Louise Erdrich

Narrated by Louise Erdrich

Unabridged — 11 hours, 49 minutes

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Overview

Notes From Your Bookseller

The inimitable and award-winning voice of Louise Erdrich is back, and this time she is taking on a tumultuous year with the help of a lovable, quirky cast of characters. An unexpected ghost story that is both a timely novel with laugh-out-loud moments as well as a beautiful commentary on identity. Erdrich cements herself as one of America’s greatest living authors.

In this stunning and timely novel, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich creates a wickedly funny ghost story, a tale of passion, of a complex marriage, and of a woman's relentless errors.

Louise Erdrich's latest novel, The Sentence, asks what we owe to the living, the dead, to the reader and to the book. A small independent bookstore in Minneapolis is haunted from November 2019 to November 2020 by the store's most annoying customer. Flora dies on All Souls' Day, but she simply won't leave the store. Tookie, who has landed a job selling books after years of incarceration that she survived by reading ""with murderous attention,"" must solve the mystery of this haunting while at the same time trying to understand all that occurs in Minneapolis during a year of grief, astonishment, isolation, and furious reckoning.

The Sentence begins on All Souls' Day 2019 and ends on All Souls' Day 2020. Its mystery and proliferating ghost stories during this one year propel a narrative as rich, emotional, and profound as anything Louise Erdrich has written.

Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook.


Editorial Reviews

NOVEMBER 2021 - AudioFile

Louise Erdrich never disappoints in this engrossing, beautifully written novel. Her narration is breathy, poignant, often funny, and always engrossing. Tookie works at Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore in Minneapolis owned by Erdrich—who sometimes enters the novel as herself. Tookie is being haunted by the ghost of her most annoying customer, Flora, who won’t leave the bookstore. With equal attention to the seen and the unseen, Erdrich delivers what feels like a nonfiction novel. She chronicles the dwindling awareness of Native language and identity, the ever-present specter of white supremacy, George Floyd’s murder, and the Covid pandemic. The pages are filled with pain and awareness. With each character as real as Flora’s ghost, listeners will find a masterful performance of a marvelous novel. S.J.H. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2021, Portland, Maine

Publishers Weekly

★ 08/30/2021

Pulitzer winner Erdrich (The Night Watchman) returns with a scintillating story about a motley group of Native American booksellers haunted by the spirit of a customer. In 2019 Minneapolis, Tookie, a formerly incarcerated woman, is visited at a bookstore by the ghost of Flora, a white woman with a problematic past. Despite being a dedicated ally of myriad Native causes, Flora fabricated a family lineage linking her to various Indigenous groups including Dakota and Ojibwe. Many of the story’s characters reckon with both personal and ancestral hauntings: Tookie with a childhood of neglect and her time in prison for unknowingly trafficking drugs; her husband, Pollux, a former tribal police officer, confronts his past experiences of using force after the murder of George Floyd; and Asema, a college student of Ojibwe and Sisseton Dakota descent, pieces together an ominous historical manuscript depicting the abduction of a 19th-century Ojibwe-Cree woman, which Flora’s daughter brought to the store. As the Covid-19 pandemic takes hold and the store pivots to mail orders, several of the characters join the protests against police brutality. More than a gripping ghost story, this offers profound insights into the effects of the global pandemic and the collateral damage of systemic racism. It adds up to one of Erdrich’s most sprawling and illuminating works to date. Agent: Andrew Wylie, The Wylie Agency. (Nov.)This review has been updated to reflect the final version of the book.

From the Publisher

"THE SENTENCE is a novel that reckons with ghosts—of both specific people but also the shadows resulting from America’s violent, dark habits." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Scintillating…More than a gripping ghost story, THE SENTENCE offers profound insights into the effects of the global pandemic and the collateral damage of systemic racism. It adds up to one of Erdrich’s most…illuminating works to date.”         — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Imaginative, boldly honest...This novel's persistent search for meaning reveals astonishing, sublime depths...Erdrich's prose, layered with unforgettable flourishes of detail...enhances and deepens this growing sense of a larger collective haunting....The Sentence is a staggering addition to Erdrich's already impressive body of work." — BookPage

“The irreverent and funny Tookie grapples with the ghost, then the pandemic, then the protests. Her journey, captured in Erdrich’s expert prose, is a cathartic and comforting story that book lovers will gobble up.” — Real Simple

“Erdrich’s fictional worlds bristle with the awareness that we are all ghosts-in-waiting and that the written word is a way to communicate with people both long dead and not yet born. This is how Erdrich can write a haunting story without invoking even the slightest hint of the gothic; how she blends contemporary politics with myth without breaking a stride.” — Jo Livingstone, The New Republic

“A bewitching novel…Strange, enchanting and funny: a work about motherhood, doom, regret and the magic—dark, benevolent and every shade in between—of words on paper.” — Molly Young, New York Times

"THE SENTENCE is a wonder...an utterly original, exhilarating novel...that burns with moral passion, brims with humor, and captivates with its striking and irresistible voice...A testament to the life-making importance of stories." — Priscilla Gilman, Boston Globe

“Among Erdrich’s most magical novels…The Sentence is a ghost story that hovers between the realms of historical horror and cultural comedy…Moving at its own peculiar rhythm with a scope that feels somehow both cloistered and expansive, it captures a traumatic year in the history of a nation struggling to appreciate its own diversity.” — Ron Charles, Washington Post

The Sentence has a sometimes disconcerting you-are-there quality…though the events do amplify the novel’s themes of social and personal connection and dissociation, and of the historic crimes and contemporary aggressions, micro and overt, perpetuated in the name of white supremacy." — Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“A deceptively big novel, various in its storytelling styles; ambitious in its immediacy…An absorbing and unquiet novel…that seems ‘essential’ for a deeper take on the times we are living through.” — Maureen Corrigan, NPR

“As timely as it is unexpected: a pandemic ghost story, The Sentence captures the quietly simmering fury of summer 2020…Tookie’s voice is genuine and humorous, her perspective rich with history and literacy.” — Entertainment Weekly

“The many-hued, finely patterned weave of Erdrich’s funny, evocative, painful, and redemptive ghost story includes strands of autobiography…Erdrich’s insights into what her city Minneapolis experienced in 2020 are piercing; all her characters are enthralling, and her dramatization of why books are essential to our well-being is resounding.” — Booklist (starred review)

The Sentence testifies repeatedly to the power books possess to heal us and yes, to change our lives…There are books like this one, that while they may not resolve the mysteries of the human heart, go a long way toward shedding light on our predicaments. In the case of The Sentence, that’s plenty.”                                                            New York Times Book Review

"This novel, with its spiky yet warm main character and homage to the world of bookselling and reading, is an utterly delightful read that doesn't shy away from 2020's misery and uncertainty." — Buzzfeed

"Dazzling...A hard-won love letter to readers and to booksellers, as well as a compelling story about how we cope with pain and fear, injustice and illness. One good way is to press a beloved book into another's hands. Read The Sentence and then do just that." — USA Today (four stars)

"No one escapes heartache in The Sentence, but mysteries old and new are solved, and some of the broken places made stronger. The Sentence, a book about the healing power of books, makes its own case splendidly." — Tampa Bay Times

"Erdrich's playful wit and casual style belie a seriousness of purpose, which in the case of this winning novel, entails tackling the pandemic, the death of George Floyd, the trials of doing time in prison and not least, the power of books to change lives." — New York Times Book Review, Editor’s Choice

The Sentence sings when it traces how current events inflect Tookie’s connection to Pollux…Erdrich’s gifts—an intensity of honesty, a summoning of feeling that exhausts itself, deliriously, in images—are on full display here. The images reverberate because the feelings are true.” — The New Yorker

Real Simple

The irreverent and funny Tookie grapples with the ghost, then the pandemic, then the protests. Her journey, captured in Erdrich’s expert prose, is a cathartic and comforting story that book lovers will gobble up.

Maureen Corrigan

A deceptively big novel, various in its storytelling styles; ambitious in its immediacy…An absorbing and unquiet novel…that seems ‘essential’ for a deeper take on the times we are living through.

Molly Young

A bewitching novel…Strange, enchanting and funny: a work about motherhood, doom, regret and the magic—dark, benevolent and every shade in between—of words on paper.

Minneapolis Star-Tribune

The Sentence has a sometimes disconcerting you-are-there quality…though the events do amplify the novel’s themes of social and personal connection and dissociation, and of the historic crimes and contemporary aggressions, micro and overt, perpetuated in the name of white supremacy."

Jo Livingstone

Erdrich’s fictional worlds bristle with the awareness that we are all ghosts-in-waiting and that the written word is a way to communicate with people both long dead and not yet born. This is how Erdrich can write a haunting story without invoking even the slightest hint of the gothic; how she blends contemporary politics with myth without breaking a stride.

Ron Charles

Among Erdrich’s most magical novels…The Sentence is a ghost story that hovers between the realms of historical horror and cultural comedy…Moving at its own peculiar rhythm with a scope that feels somehow both cloistered and expansive, it captures a traumatic year in the history of a nation struggling to appreciate its own diversity.

BookPage

"Imaginative, boldly honest...This novel's persistent search for meaning reveals astonishing, sublime depths...Erdrich's prose, layered with unforgettable flourishes of detail...enhances and deepens this growing sense of a larger collective haunting....The Sentence is a staggering addition to Erdrich's already impressive body of work."

Priscilla Gilman

"THE SENTENCE is a wonder...an utterly original, exhilarating novel...that burns with moral passion, brims with humor, and captivates with its striking and irresistible voice...A testament to the life-making importance of stories."

Booklist (starred review)

The many-hued, finely patterned weave of Erdrich’s funny, evocative, painful, and redemptive ghost story includes strands of autobiography…Erdrich’s insights into what her city Minneapolis experienced in 2020 are piercing; all her characters are enthralling, and her dramatization of why books are essential to our well-being is resounding.

Buzzfeed

"This novel, with its spiky yet warm main character and homage to the world of bookselling and reading, is an utterly delightful read that doesn't shy away from 2020's misery and uncertainty."

Entertainment Weekly

As timely as it is unexpected: a pandemic ghost story, The Sentence captures the quietly simmering fury of summer 2020…Tookie’s voice is genuine and humorous, her perspective rich with history and literacy.

USA Today (four stars)

"Dazzling...A hard-won love letter to readers and to booksellers, as well as a compelling story about how we cope with pain and fear, injustice and illness. One good way is to press a beloved book into another's hands. Read The Sentence and then do just that."

The New Yorker

The Sentence sings when it traces how current events inflect Tookie’s connection to Pollux…Erdrich’s gifts—an intensity of honesty, a summoning of feeling that exhausts itself, deliriously, in images—are on full display here. The images reverberate because the feelings are true.

Boston Globe

"THE SENTENCE is a wonder...an utterly original, exhilarating novel...that burns with moral passion, brims with humor, and captivates with its striking and irresistible voice...A testament to the life-making importance of stories."

Tampa Bay Times

"No one escapes heartache in The Sentence, but mysteries old and new are solved, and some of the broken places made stronger. The Sentence, a book about the healing power of books, makes its own case splendidly."

New York Times Book Review

The Sentence testifies repeatedly to the power books possess to heal us and yes, to change our lives…There are books like this one, that while they may not resolve the mysteries of the human heart, go a long way toward shedding light on our predicaments. In the case of The Sentence, that’s plenty.”                                                            

The New Yorker

The Sentence sings when it traces how current events inflect Tookie’s connection to Pollux…Erdrich’s gifts—an intensity of honesty, a summoning of feeling that exhausts itself, deliriously, in images—are on full display here. The images reverberate because the feelings are true.

Washington Post on The Night Watchman

"Louise Erdrich rediscovers her genius. . . . This narrator’s vision is more capacious, reaching out across a whole community in tender conversation with itself. "

New York Times Book Review on The Night Watchman

A magisterial epic that brings her power of witness to every page.

the Oprah Magazine on The Night Watchman O

"The Night Watchman is a singular achievement even for this accomplished writer. . . Erdrich, like her grandfather, is a defender and raconteur of the lives of her people."

Boston Globe on The Night Watchman

Erdrich’s newest novel thrills with luminous empathy.

Tampa Bay Times on The Night Watchman

No one can break your heart and fill it with light all in the same book — sometimes in the same paragraph — quite like Louise Erdrich."

Christian Science Monitor on The Night Watchman

Louise Erdrich is one of our era’s most powerful literary voices. . . . In The Night Watchman Erdrich’s blend of spirituality, gallows humor, and political resistance is at play. . . . It may be set in the 1950s, but the history it unearths and its themes of taking a stand against injustice are every bit as timely today.

USA Today on The Night Watchman

In powerfully spare and elegant prose, Erdrich depicts deeply relatable characters who may be poor but are richly connected to family, community and the Earth.

Christian Science Monitor

Louise Erdrich is one of our era’s most powerful literary voices…In The Night Watchman Erdrich’s blend of spirituality, gallows humor, and political resistance is at play…It may be set in the 1950s, but the history it unearths and its themes of taking a stand against injustice are every bit as timely today.”

USA Today

In powerfully spare and elegant prose, Erdrich depicts deeply relatable characters who may be poor but are richly connected to family, community and the Earth.

Washington Post

"Louise Erdrich rediscovers her genius…This narrator’s vision is more capacious, reaching out across a whole community in tender conversation with itself. "

the Oprah Magazine O

"The Night Watchman is a singular achievement even for this accomplished writer. . . Erdrich, like her grandfather, is a defender and raconteur of the lives of her people."

Library Journal

★ 12/17/2021

Erdrich's (The Night Watchman) latest is something of a small divergence for the prolific author, both a gauzy ghost story and an entry in the emerging subgenre of pandemic literature. More specifically, it concerns hauntings: by our past (and sometimes even our present), by specters of our mortality, by the legacy of colonialism, by the ever-present violence of American society. Tookie, Erdrich's latest memorable, hardscrabble protagonist, is a previously incarcerated woman who now works at a Minneapolis bookstore and who finds herself visited by the lingering spirit of her most difficult customer. This initial plot thread soon gives way to the twinned surrealities of COVID-19's global stranglehold and the cultural reckoning that follows George Floyd's death: as one character puts it, "What we're living through is either unreal or too real. I can't decide." But while the narrative would at first seem to progress as if these elements were each a distinct narrative movement, Erdrich masterfully reveals an act of layering; Tookie's story feels vertically stacked rather than linearly advanced, each beat informing and complicating and enriching the others. Thankfully, the novel's charged material is never presented from a soapbox, and what ultimately resonates most is its pronounced celebratory spirit, particularly for bibliophiles. VERDICT A true book lover's book, about the power of literature, about retaining hope through enduring personal and cultural tragedy, and about our capacity for betterment.—Luke Gorham, Galesburg P.L., IL

Kirkus Reviews

★ 2021-08-04
The most recent recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in fiction—for The Night Watchman (2020)—turns her eye to various kinds of hauntings, all of which feel quite real to the affected characters.

Erdrich is the owner of Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore in Minneapolis and, in this often funny novel, the favorite bookstore of Flora, one of narrator Tookie’s “most annoying customers.” Flora wants to be thought of as Indigenous, a “very persistent wannabe” in the assessment of Tookie, who's Ojibwe. Flora appears at the store one day with a photo of her great-grandmother, claiming the woman was ashamed of being Indian: “The picture of the woman looked Indianesque, or she might have just been in a bad mood,” Tookie decides. Flora dies on All Souls’ Day 2019 with a book splayed next to her—she didn't have time to put a bookmark in it—but she continues shuffling through the store’s aisles even after her cremation. Tookie is recently out of prison for transporting a corpse across state lines, which would have netted her $26,000 had she not been ratted out and had the body not had crack cocaine duct-taped to its armpits, a mere technicality of which Tookie was unaware. Tookie is also unaware that Flora considered Tookie to be her best friend and thus sticks to her like glue in the afterlife, even smacking a book from the fiction section onto the floor during a staff meeting at Birchbark. The novel’s humor is mordant: “Small bookstores have the romance of doomed intimate spaces about to be erased by unfettered capitalism.” The characters are also haunted by the George Floyd murder, which occurred in Minneapolis; they wrestle with generations of racism against Black and Indigenous Americans. Erdrich’s love for bookselling is clear, as is her complicated affection for Minneapolis and the people who fight to overcome institutional hatred and racism.

A novel that reckons with ghosts—of both specific people and also the shadows resulting from America’s violent, dark habits.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940173362759
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 11/09/2021
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 383,995
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