Friday, November 13, 2015

Louise Erdrich

"When we are young, the words are scattered all around us. As they are assembled by experience, so also are we, sentence by sentence, until the story takes shape." Louise Erdrich

Louise Erdrich is an Ojibwe writer. She is the author of 14 novels as well as volumes of poetry, children's books, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her debut 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. Her novel, The Plague of Doves, a New York Times bestseller, received the highest praise from Philip Roth, author who wrote, that Louise Erdrich's imaginative freedom has reached its zenith--it is her dazzling masterpiece. 

Louise Erdrich lives in Minnesota with her daughters. She is the co-owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore with her sister, author Heide Erdrich. It was created fifteen years ago by Louise Erdrich as part of her passion to ensure that true stories of the native people are told and known, and their languages are not forgotten. Their mission as an independent bookstore is to keep real conversations between book lovers alive. They exist to nourish and build a community based on books.
I have been there and indeed it is a cozy destination in the lovely Kenwood neighborhood of Minneapolis. The bookstore specializes in Native American books, arts, jewelry and gifts. The bookstore sponsors readings by Native and non-Native writers, journalists, and historians.

An unusual item in the bookstore is a confessional. The story goes it was rescued from becoming a bar fixture. It is now termed a Forgiveness Booth.

One of the top recommended book reads would be Louise Erdrich’s award-winning Birchbark House Series (The Birchbark House, The Game of Silence, The Porcupine Year). Louise grew up on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series and loved it. 

The story follows the life of Omakayas and her Ojibwe community beginning in 1847 near present day Lake Superior. Birchbark House has received rave reviews and was a 1999 National Book Award Finalist for young people’s fiction.
It's a beautiful book that parallels in many ways Wilder's series but telling the other side in a moving way. The story illustrates the American Indians' perspective of the pioneer movement. 
We follow a year in the life of an 8-year-old Ojibway girl, including a tragic smallpox epidemic, a meeting with a bear family, and finding out her true heritage. The story shows the everyday life of Native Americans before their lives were severely changed by foreigners in their lands. 
Another book recommend would be Erdrich's most recent book The Round House.
The novel was first published in 2012. It is her 14th novel. Some critics considered it a thematic sequel to Erdrich's 2008 novel The Plaque of Doves due to its themes of revenge. Like most of Erdrich's other works it is set on an unnamed fictional Indian reservation in North Dakota. It won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2012.
At its surface in this story we get the vibrant portrait of a family on an Ojibwe reservation trying to recover from a brutal rape of their mother in 1988. The story is told from the perspective of a 13 year old boy Joe, the protagonist, who is trying to make sense of events from a point of view even decades later. But at its heart, it is about what we call soul wounds redemption, the abiding love a boy has for his mother, the coming of age of a boy whose life is defined by one tragic event, and the sad truth of how powerless the government has rendered tribes all over this country. An important Native American legal loophole was brought to light in this story when a Native American woman is raped by a non-native man, legal jurisprudence is lacking. We are also shown how Native people have been treated by the American legal system.
As a reader I found the complexities of reservation laws, Native American customs and lore fascinating. Erdrich is a gifted Native American writer  who writes compelling  realistic stories.
Posting: Healthy Friday recipes and Weekend Round-Up will be combined.

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