The Round House
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 as 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, who is 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.
Written with undeniable urgency, and illuminating the harsh realities of contemporary life in a community where Ojibwe and white live uneasily together, The Round House is a brilliant and entertaining novel, a masterpiece of literary fiction. Louise Erdrich embraces tragedy, the comic, a spirit world very much present in the lives of her all-too-human characters, and a tale of injustice that is, unfortunately, an authentic reflection of what happens in our own world today.
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
A multi-genred novel in which a Native American woman is assaulted and raped by a white man. As the place of the perpetration is not determined (state or tribal land?) it is impossible to decide under which jurisdiction the crime falls. Joe, the victim’s thirteen year-old son tries to solve the crime and becomes award of the various forms of racism and violence.
The Round House is a powerfully written coming-of-age story rooted in Native American culture but universal in its themes of family, morality and love.
Narrated by thirteen year old Joe, whose mother has been raped, this novel investigates what makes a person turn violent and what society should do with those people. The author contrasts Native American Tribal Law against that of the United States legal system and masterfully portrays both the tragedy and comedy of life.
A powerful story of an horrific crime, racial prejudice, justice and revenge, seen through the eyes of a young Native American man. Erdrich’s ongoing saga of the Ojibwe tribe rivals Faulkner’s tales of Yoknapatawpha County in its scope, power and resonance.
A thought-provoking story about the effects of violence and ingrained bigotry on a young boy finding his way in the world.
Noted author Erdrich pens a complex coming of age novel that is a multilayered portrait of a people and a place. Her beautiful and poetic writing makes this novel especially vivid and compelling. That the subject matter is drawn from real-life statistics on racially motivated attacks on Native American reservations, makes it more moving and timely. The Round House is both a coming of age story and a suspenseful mystery with a moral.