Friday, February 1, 2013
The Round House
Louise Erdrich has written fourteen novels as well as short stories, a memoir, and children's books. Her most recent novel, The Round House, won the 2012 National Book Award. Curious to see what the buzz was about and not having read any Erdrich since college, I was immediately drawn in to the story as soon as I picked it up. The Round House takes place in 1988 on a reservation in North Dakota, and is told from the perspective of thirteen-year-old Joe. Joe's mother Geraldine is the victim of a horrific crime. Joe and his father attempt to piece what happened together and to bring the attacker to justice, which is not an easy task when it is not clear exactly where the crime took place (private land, government land, Native land, etc.). Ultimately, Joe sets off with his friends and starts to learn of the crime, eventually taking justice into his own hands. The story was very powerful, and had a potent mix of humor and tragedy. I found Erdrich's channeling as a thirteen-year-old boy to be convincing, in the range of emotions he feels for his parents, his friends, and the very grown-up situation he unexpectedly finds himself in.