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The Round House by Louise Erdrich

The Round House (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Louise Erdrich

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1,7661343,987 (4)228
Title:The Round House
Authors:Louise Erdrich
Info:Harper (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Read in 2012, Your library
Tags:North Dakota, reservation, Native Americans, Ojibwe, rape

Work details

The Round House by Louise Erdrich (2012)

  1. 30
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (JenMDB)
  2. 00
    The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich (Limelite)
    Limelite: Not exactly a prequel, but featuring several of the same characters that appear in this more recent novel.
  3. 00
    A Time to Kill by John Grisham (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: Less literary and as a legal thriller more focused on the courtroom drama, but Grisham's A Time To Kill focuses on similar problems of racism and unspeakable crimes and the drive for the victim's family to seek revenge.
  4. 00
    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: Alexie's Absolutely True Diary shows a teenager (a little older than Joe) struggling with the poverty, alcoholism and injustice found on the reservation and the bullying and racism he faces from the outside world. A similar theme of the heartaches of growing up on a reservation in an unjust world - Alexie's work shows more humor, though.… (more)
  5. 00
    Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese (Iudita)
  6. 00
    Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich (JenMDB)

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» See also 228 mentions

English (129)  Spanish (4)  All languages (133)
Showing 1-5 of 129 (next | show all)
Es ist der Sommer, in dem Joe, soeben 13 Jahre alt geworden, erwachsen wird. Seine Mutter wird Opfer eines brutalen Überfalls, doch aufgrund gesetzgeberischer Unstimmigkeiten fühlt sich keine Ermittlungsbehörde wirklich zuständig. Joe und seine drei Freunde machen sich gemeinsam auf die Suche...
Das Verbrechen an Joes Mutter ereignet sich im Jahre 1988 in einem Reservat in den USA. Obwohl es sich bei dem Vorfall um die zentrale Geschichte des Buches handelt, ist es doch nur ein Part unter vielen. Joe und seine Freunde lernen die Liebe kennen, es geht um die alten Mythen der Indianer, um Familie, Liebe, Gerechtigkeit, Rassismus undundund.
Erdrich ist nicht nur eine Könnerin darin, in beiläufigen Bemerkungen ganze Dramen aufzuzeigen wie beispielsweise die damals noch immer massive Diskriminierung der Indianer oder der Bombenanschlag auf die US-Botschaft in Beirut. Ebenso grandios ist ihre Fähigkeit, daneben überaus witzige Dialoge oder Szenen wie die acht nackten Indianer, die aus der Schwitzhütte flüchten zu beschreiben, ohne dass es aufgesetzt oder gekünstelt wirkt. Auch die Figuren des Romans bringt sie einem nahe: Man leidet, fürchtet oder freut sich mit ihnen und kann deren überaus skeptische Haltung gegenüber den Menschen ausserhalb des Reservates mehr als nachvollziehen. Ja, da fragt man sich, wie Joes Vater trotz alledem so voller Vernunft bleiben kann.
Weshalb dann nicht die volle Punktzahl? Weil ich kurz zuvor von Joe R. Lansdale 'Ein feiner dunkler Riss' gelesen habe, das ein sehr sehr ähnliches Thema behandelt: Ein ebenfalls 13jähriger macht sich im Sommer des Jahres 1958 gemeinsam mit Freunden auf, ein vor vielen Jahren begangenes Verbrechen aufzuklären. Und auch hier ist es ein Sommer des Erwachsenwerdens. Doch Lansdales Geschichte war (etwas) packender, was daran liegen mag, dass durch die vielen unterschiedlichen Teile Erdrichs Geschichte nicht so aus einem Guss wirkte. Etwas weniger wäre hier vielleicht mehr gewesen.
Nichtsdestotrotz: Voll und ganz empfehlenswert (und Lansdale natürlich erst recht ;-)). ( )
  Xirxe | Dec 2, 2014 |
This book was chosen by my work book club to read for November 2014. I was the one who recommended it because I've read other books by this author and I knew this one had received good reviews. I thought it was well-written and very illuminating about tribal law.

Joe is 13 years old when his mother is savagely raped. It happens on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Gertrude, Joe's mother, managed to get away from her attacker but she was so traumatized that she could not identify him. In fact, she wouldn't even talk about the assault. She takes to her bedroom while Joe and his father, a tribal judge, try to deduce who might be responsible. They know that the attack took place near the Round House, a place where the Ojibway conduct ceremonies, but the land surrounding the Round House is not all tribal land. So it was not clear which police force had jurisdiction. To make matters worse, if the attacker was a non-Indian the tribal government could not prosecute him.

The attack is the centre of the book but there are plenty of side stories which lift the tone. Mooshum, Joe's grandfather, is a consummate story teller and he passes on his stories to Joe and the rest of the reserve. Joe is still a teen-age boy with all the hormonal feelings that age engenders. I think Erdrich has done a great job of getting inside the brain of a teenaged boy. In an interview at the end of the book she talks about how she entered the mind-set of her boy characters. "My brothers did crazy things, my husband is one of many brothers and my daughters were always great pals with boys. So I just knew and know a great many thirteen- and fourteen-year-old boys. That age always gets to me."

Is justice served in the end? Read the book and judge for yourself. I'm still somewhat shocked by the end but it seems inevitable; so, yes, I think there was justice. ( )
  gypsysmom | Nov 10, 2014 |
Joe's life is about to end on a sunny, spring, Sunday afternoon as he quietly pulls sprouts out of the foundation of his family's home. He is helping his judge father while him mother does a little work at the reservation office. But, she doesn't come home. And when she does nothing will ever be the same again.

His mother has been attacked and escaped with her life. But, she slips into a deep, dark depression as Joe and his father struggle to figure out what happened, who the attacker could be and how to be a 13 year old boy whose very normal life has disappeared.

Erdrich weaves stories of reservation life and loyalties into this narrative - some through the nightime talk of Joe's very ancient grandfather or his reformed stripper aunt. But mostly we learn the ins and outs of life from Joe and his three friends. Riding bike, smoking stolen cigarettes, sharing stories and histories all come together to create a world where justice is not expected and history means more than current day.

This story spins and pulls the reader deeply inside the reservation world - deeply inside the psyche of a 13 year old in the summer of 1988. Another one that I would recommend!

This is our book club book for June. ( )
  kebets | Nov 1, 2014 |
I loved this book. I loved it for all those good old fashioned reasons I don't usually care about--I loved the characters, I cared what happened to them. And what happens to them matters, has implications beyond their made-up lives. It's thrilling to me when fiction can pull off that magic trick--it's not real but it's absolutely real.

My favorite aspect of this book is that it is a very subtle, thoughtful meta-fiction that considers the roots and implications of the mystery novel.

The end devastated me. I don't like to think about it. The brutal logic of the story, of the inevitability of its narrative, is chilling. ( )
  wordlikeabell | Oct 27, 2014 |
Justice for American Indians has come too often independent of law, at least law within the white man's jurisdiction. In the summer of 1988, Joe,"Oops," Coutts' mother is brutally raped somewhere on Indian land. Or maybe not. Joe is the son of Judge Antone Bazil Coutts, known to readers of The Plague of Doves. At thirteen, Joe may not understand everything about the world of his elders, but he does understand that when justice is unavailable to his family due to the complexities of that world, getting it when you're 13 and resourceful appears straightforward.

There is no violent crime that has but one victim. In this brilliant novel, the raped mother, her family, her son's friends, the inhabitants of the reservation, white people who are related and unrelated, religious groups, law enforcement, and the most innocent are victims. Erdrich weaves together each of those aspects of civilization into a beautiful and tragic revelation of how fragile is that concept when brutally attacked.

But amidst the tragedy of a disintegrating family and the dysfunctional society incapable of securing solace for any of them, there are luminous moments as when Mooshum, Joe's grandfather, is "sleeptelling" his wounded grandson Native American legends of their Chippewa people as Joe lies on his cot, sharing the old man's room, bathed in moonlight, listening to his unconscious ancestor evoke the spirit world.

There may be no funnier scene in American literature -- at least not since Tom Sawyer -- than when Joe and his friends are caught spying on the fearsomely scarred and dangerously mysterious new Catholic warrior-priest who holds them captive (or enthralled) as he tells them his life story. It's enough to make an Indian boy want to become Catholic.

Erdrich has written a simple on the surface novel that is profound, wide ranging, rich, and wise.

My opinion that The Master Butcher's Singing Club is Erdrich's masterpiece, may have to be revised. ( )
1 vote Limelite | Oct 20, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 129 (next | show all)
With “The Round House,” her 14th novel, Louise Erdrich takes us back to the North Dakota Ojibwe reservation that she has conjured and mapped in so many earlier books, and made as indelibly real as Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County or Joyce’s Dublin. This time she focuses on one nuclear family — the 13-year-old Joe Coutts; his mother, Geraldine; and his father, Judge Antone Coutts — that is shattered and remade after a terrible event.

Although its plot suffers from a schematic quality that inhibits Ms. Erdrich’s talent for elliptical storytelling, the novel showcases her extraordinary ability to delineate the ties of love, resentment, need, duty and sympathy that bind families together. “The Round House” — a National Book Award finalist in the fiction category — opens out to become a detective story and a coming-of-age story, a story about how Joe is initiated into the sadnesses and disillusionments of grown-up life and the somber realities of his people’s history.
“The Round House” represents something of a departure for Erdrich, whose past novels of Indian life have usually relied on a rotating cast of narrators, a kind of storytelling chorus. Here, though, Joe is the only narrator, and the urgency of his account gives the action the momentum and tight focus of a crime novel, which, in a sense, it is. But for Erdrich, “The Round House” is also a return to form.
added by zhejw | editNew York Times, Maria Russo (Oct 12, 2012)
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.
Our reviewer, Alan Cheuse, is always in pursuit of great new books. And today, Louise Erdrich's latest "The Round House." I interviewed her earlier this week about the novel. Now, here's Alan's take and he says it's her best yet.
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Small trees had attacked my parents' home at the foundation.
"Women don't realize how much store men set on the regularity of their habits," Joe says. "Our pulse is set to theirs, and as always on a weekend afternoon we were waiting for my mother to start us ticking away on the evening."
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Book description
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. Amazon description.
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When his mother, a tribal enrollment specialist living on a reservation in North Dakota, slips into an abyss of depression after being brutally attacked, 14-year-old Joe Coutz sets out with his three friends to find the person that destroyed his family.… (more)

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