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The Round House by Louise Erdrich
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The Round House (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Louise Erdrich

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1,482None4,994 (4)179
Member:bgottry
Title:The Round House
Authors:Louise Erdrich
Info:Harper (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Fiction Suspense Modern Indian

Work details

The Round House by Louise Erdrich (2012)

  1. 20
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (JenMDB)
  2. 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.
  3. 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)
  4. 00
    Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese (Iudita)
  5. 00
    Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich (JenMDB)
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» See also 179 mentions

English (113)  Spanish (2)  All languages (115)
Showing 1-5 of 113 (next | show all)
The round house of the story is a building on an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota where people gather not only to socialize but also to dance and celebrate their sacred traditions. It is also the setting of a horrific crime in the summer of 1988.

Joe, the narrator, is a young adolescent at the time the crime occurs. He tells of how the crime shatters his sense of safety, and how, with the help of his friends, especially Cappy, he tries to discover the perpetrator of this crime in hopes of putting his family back together again.

But seeking justice is never simple. Land ownership is an issue, jurisdiction is an issue, and in the small world of the reservation and North Dakota old grudges are an issue. When Joe’s mother Geraldine finally talks about what happened, we discover that the roots of this crime run deep indeed. Joe and his father are angry. Geraldine is frightened and angry. And healing and justice are not the same thing.

I especially liked the slow pace of this story, as we become acquainted with Joe, his father, his friends and the network of family and relationships Joe is sustained by. I also liked the way in which Mooshum & his stories give Joe insight into how to proceed, as well as filling in the history of the round house and providing some much needed laughs.

This is a richly textured novel, and well worth the read. ( )
  markon | Apr 11, 2014 |
Sometimes the big book awards appear to be given for political reasons. Often the big sellers are a result of a big marketing budget with plenty of PR hype. A few paragraphs into a book like THE ROUND HOUSE and I am reminded that some books are just good. As with authors like Marilynne Robinson, there is an obvious deep intelligence behind the deceptively simple prose. Ernest Hemingway in the feminine.

The device of using a 13 year old narrator with wisdom and maturity of a sage is curious, not in the least because it works. The plot, while portraying what President Obama called an assault on our national conscience, manages to be deeply satisfying and upsetting at the same time.

It is encouraging as a publisher to see this kind of quality. It makes me think that vigorous acquisitions might lead somewhere. A couple of pet peeves: give me quotation marks any day of the week, and enough with the deckle edges already.
  torreyhouse | Apr 10, 2014 |
My first thought about The Round House was that it had a strong To Kill a Mockingbird vibe. That's a commonplace comparison, as it turns out. It's a coming-of-age story wrapped up in a story of crime and injustice on a Native American reservation. The protagonist Joe, son of a wise and kindly judge, is enormously appealing: a nice kid, trying to make sense of a brutal assault against his mother and of the inability to prosecute the obvious offender because of a confusing tangle of Indian, state and federal jurisdictions.

Erdrich's setting and characterization are rich, realistic and unsentimental. The U.S. government's oppression of Native Americans is integral to the story: I learned things from this book but never felt lectured to. I was mostly really drawn in by the story, my attention only occasionally wandering when extended folk tales entered the narrative, folk tales being Not My Thing. ( )
1 vote CasualFriday | Mar 31, 2014 |
A really fascinating book. The audio, read by Gary Farmer, was terrific. In the first minute or two I wondered if I was listening to someone who had difficulty reading but quickly one realizes that Farmer is terrific as the adult version of the boy in the story. And what a tory---a sad but beautifully described view of what is still happening on Indian reservations in this country. How wonderful that Erdrich uses her own history to write about Native American characters in her works. ( )
  nyiper | Mar 20, 2014 |
I felt that it was an interesting story but it was too long for the amount of plot there was. It just seemed that a lot of time was spent describing Joe going from one place to the next, and I yearned for more action or meaningful dialogue. I knew that it would not be a happy book but didn't expect that extra unhappy ending either. I guess it just points out the ripple effects of bad decisions and how the consequences can affect a whole community or tribe. The slow pace of the book in a way reflected what I imagine life on a reservation is like, and it seems what Native culture is about in many ways: quiet, deliberate, and thoughtful. Not a lot of wasted energy. I'm not sorry that I read it, but it wasn't nearly as good as I thought it would be either. ( )
  kristi17 | Mar 18, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 113 (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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To Pallas
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Small trees had attacked my parents' home at the foundation.
Quotations
"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)

(summary from another edition)

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