The Round House by Louise Erdrich
reviewed by Rita Loibl
Louise Erdrich recently won the prestigious National Book Award for her latest novel, “The Round House”, set on a reservation in her native North Dakota. In this novel, Joe, a sheltered 13-year-old, must come to terms with crime, justice and adult sexuality after his mother is brutally raped. She is so traumatized that she will not speak of the incident or name her attacker. Joe’s father, a tribal judge, tries to bring normalcy back to the family as he seeks desperately to solve the crime. His hands are somewhat tied as the attack took place at the intersection of native and state lands – the jurisdiction isn’t clear. Authorities may not be able to bring about justice, even after a clear suspect emerges. This frustrates Joe, so along with his trusted friends Cappy, Zack and Angus, he decides to take matters into his own hands.
The characters and setting of “The Round House” are a part of a larger story Erdrich has been telling most of her career. Erdrich is a member of the Turtle Mountain Bank of Chippewa. The old wounds of violated treaties and boarding house education that stripped American Indians of their language and culture resurface in this story.
Louise Erdrich has written fourteen novels as well as volumes of poetry, short stories, children’s books and a memoir of early motherhood. She lives in Minnesota and is the owner of Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore.
This fascinating and nationally acclaimed book can be check out at the McVille Community Library.