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The Round House


Book Overview: The Round House

From one of the most revered novelists of our time, 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.

Winner of the National Book Award - Washington Post Best Book of the Year - A New York Times Notable Book

One Sunday in the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface because Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. In one day, Joe's life is irrevocably transformed. He tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. Increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world for which he is ill prepared.

While his father, a tribal judge, endeavors to wrest justice from a situation that defies his efforts, Joe becomes frustrated with the official investigation and sets out with his trusted friends, Cappy, Zack, and Angus, to get some answers of his own. Their quest takes them first to the Round House, a sacred space and place of worship for the Ojibwe. And this is only the beginning.

The Round House is a page-turning masterpiece--at once a powerful coming-of-age story, a mystery, and a tender, moving novel of family, history, and culture.

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"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." -- Elizabeth Taylor, Chicago Tribune

"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." -- NPR/All Thing's Considered

"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." -- USA Today

"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." -- Ron Charles, Washington Post

"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." -- Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

"A gripping mystery with a moral twist: Revenge might be the harshest punishment, but only for the victims. A-" -- Entertainment Weekly

"Moving, complex, and surprisingly uplifting...likely to be dubbed the Native American TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD" -- Parade, Fall's Best Books

"Erdrich never shields the reader or Joe from the truth...She writes simply, without flourish." -- Philadelphia Inquirer

"An artfully balanced mystery, thriller and coming-of-age story...this novel will have you reading at warp speed to see what happens next." -- Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Erdrich's bittersweet contemplation of love and friendship, morality and generativity...result in a tender, tough coming-of-age tale." -- Cleveland Plain Dealer

"A powerful human story...By boring deeply into one person's darkest episode, Erdrich hits the bedrock truth about a whole community." -- New York Times Book Review

"Haunting...a bittersweet coming-of-age tale...tender but unsentimental and buoyed by subtle wit" -- People

"THE ROUND HOUSE is a stunning piece of architecture. It is carefully, lovingly, disarmingly constructed. Even the digressions demand strict attention." -- Newsday

"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." -- San Francisco Chronicle

"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..." -- Miami Herald

"A sweeping, suspenseful outing from this prizewinning, generation-spanning chronicler of her Native American people, the Ojibwe of the northern plains...a sumptuous tale." -- Elle

"Erdrich threads a gripping mystery and multilayered portrait of a community through a deeply affecting coming-of-age novel." -- Karen Holt, O, the Oprah Magazine

"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." -- Donna Seaman, Booklist, Starred Review of THE ROUND HOUSE

"The story pulses with urgency as she [Erdrich] probes the moral and legal ramifications of a terrible act of violence." -- Publishers Weekly, Starred Review of THE ROUND HOUSE

"Erdrich skillfully makes Joe's coming-of-age both universal and specific...the story is also ripe with detail about reservation life, and with her rich cast of characters, Erdrich provides flavor, humor and depth. Joe's relationship with his father, Bazil, a judge, has echoes of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD." -- Library Journal, Starred Review of THE ROUND HOUSE

"Riveting...One of Erdrich's most suspenseful novels.... It vividly portrays both the deep tragedy and crazy comedy of life." -- BookPage, Cover/Feature Review

"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." -- Jane Ciabattari, Boston Globe

"Louise Erdrich's prose is spare, precise, smooth as polished stone. Her books are rich with literary muscle." -Austin American-Statesman -- Austin American-Statesman

"The story draws the reader unstoppably page by page." -- Seattle Times

"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." -- Reader's Digest

"Poignant and surprisingly funny, it's the acclaimed writer's best book yet." -- O, the Oprah Magazine, "Our Favorite Reads of 2012"

Anna Lee Walters is a distinguished Native American author of Pawnee-Otoe heritage. As an esteemed writer, Walters gained prominence for her contribution to indigenous literature, focusing on the marginalization of Native American women. Her notable works, "Ghost Singer" and "The Sun is Not Merciful" explore sensitive cultural and social themes. A passionate educator, Walters diffuses her vast knowledge of indigenous cultures across generations, making an indelible mark on the literary world.
Gerald Vizenor is a renowned Native American scholar and novelist of Anishinaabe descent. An Emeritus Professor, his academic and literary accomplishments span decades, focusing on native issues, cultural studies, and complex trickster inequities. With more than thirty books to his credit, including novels, poetry, and critical theory, his works are evocative expressions of his commitment to indigenous survivance. Humor, insights, and erudition suffuse Vizenor's narratives enchanting worldwide readers.
Louise Erdrich
Louise Erdrich, a renowned author widely recognized for her novel "Love Medicine," has been a pillar in the showcasing of Native American literature. As a North Dakota native, Erdrich's work frequently highlights the Chippewa experiences, infused with a blend of storytelling, history, and mysticism. Awarded with a National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize finalist, her significant contributions have continued to shape and pave way for the understanding and appreciation of Native American culture in literature.
S. Alice Callahan was an influential Native American author and educator of Muscogee Creek descent. Primarily known for her novel "Wynema: A Child of the Forest", she is revered as the first Native American woman to publish a novel. Callahan dedicated her life to education and advocating for Native American rights and women's rights. Her work combines storytelling with her passion for social justice, preserving a lasting legacy in American literature.
Sherman Alexie is an acclaimed American author, poet, and filmmaker known for exploring themes related to his Native American heritage. Born in 1966 on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington State, Alexie overcame numerous hardships, including living with hydrocephalus. This experience influenced his work, which often focuses on Native American characters grappling with poverty, racism, and health problems. Some of his most famous works include "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian," which won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature in 2007, and "Smoke Signals," a film he wrote and co-produced that won the Audience Award and Filmmaker's Trophy at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. His numerous honors include a PEN/Hemingway Award, a PEN/Malamud Award, and he was named one of The New Yorker's 20 top writers for the 21st century.
Winona LaDuke is a celebrated Native American activist, environmentalist, and economist of Ojibwe ancestry. As a Harvard graduate, LaDuke pioneered advocacy for indigenous rights, becoming vice-presidential nominee twice alongside Ralph Nader. She founded the White Earth Land Recovery Project and Honor the Earth to safeguard tribal lands' sustainability. An author of impactful books, LaDuke's commitment to environmental justice and indigenous sovereignty resonates globally.

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