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Future Home of the Living God

by Louise Erdrich

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,4278012,906 (3.53)84
Fiction. Literature. HTML:

Louise Erdrich, the New York Times bestselling, National Book Award-winning author of LaRose and The Round House, paints a startling portrait of a young woman fighting for her life and her unborn child against oppressive forces that manifest in the wake of a cataclysmic event.

The world as we know it is ending. Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. Thirty-two-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted daughter of a pair of big-hearted, open-minded Minneapolis liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest of America around her. But for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant.

Though she wants to tell the adoptive parents who raised her from infancy, Cedar first feels compelled to find her birth mother, Mary Potts, an Ojibwe living on the reservation, to understand both her and her baby's origins. As Cedar goes back to her own biological beginnings, society around her begins to disintegrate, fueled by a swelling panic about the end of humanity.

There are rumors of martial law, of Congress confining pregnant women. Of a registry, and rewards for those who turn these wanted women in. Flickering through the chaos are signs of increasing repression: a shaken Cedar witnesses a family wrenched apart when police violently drag a mother from her husband and child in a parking lot. The streets of her neighborhood have been renamed with Bible verses. A stranger answers the phone when she calls her adoptive parents, who have vanished without a trace. It will take all Cedar has to avoid the prying eyes of potential informants and keep her baby safe.

A chilling dystopian novel both provocative and prescient, Future Home of the Living God is a startlingly original work from one of our most acclaimed writers: a moving meditation on female agency, self-determination, biology, and natural rights that speaks to the troubling changes of our time.

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» See also 84 mentions

English (78)  Dutch (1)  All languages (79)
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
A good book with a slightly monotonous ending however it conforms with most dystopian fiction so it makes sense!!!
A world where evolution is turning backwards it may be unrealistic but dystopian fiction doesn’t need to be realistic to convey how society deals with disruption and disaster. Also covers some real life themes such as adoption and explores some native american traditions! ( )
  highlandcow | Mar 13, 2024 |
How do I rate this?

This book broke me. I am angry that I read it. Angry I did not check CWs. I laid in bed and sobbed after I finished it. Hope for humanity or any of the characters in this book was repeatedly teased and then relentlessly stripped away. It is the bleakest book I have ever read. Bleaker than Butler. Convinced me that humanity is a mistake and we should all be thrown into the sea. ( )
  greeniezona | Feb 9, 2024 |
This book was bizarre in its premise but had moments of brilliance. I was not expecting yet another dystopian novel. In this one women are once again victimized in the near future as the United States becomes undone. Clearly there's a sense that global warming has played some part in the events, but the reverse biological evolution and religious totalitarianism were not even partly explained, leaving me somewhat dissatisfied. I also thought the character development came up short. The best writing was in the philosophizing, but that seemed too disjointed and almost gratuitous. Nevertheless, the story was interesting, but I expected more from a writer of Louise Erdrich's caliber. ( )
  bschweiger | Feb 4, 2024 |
Louise Erdrich's book will receive the overused term 'dystopian fiction.' However, it is closer to work of post-colonial fiction, with the current trends of a culture and economy based on exploitation projected into the near future. One only has to read the novel's depiction of Thanksgiving. In this respect, Future Home of the Living God is consistent with the Erdrich catalog.

And while comparisons to The Handmaid’s Tale may seem natural, Louise Erdrich’s Future Home of the Living God diverges in ways that should, in the way that good fiction does, inspire readers to pay closer attention to the movements happening just below the surface.

At an earlier time the evil envisioned by dystopias featured the work of an authoritarian regime. And while that exists here, the world lapses into chaos, created in part by questions a regime (it is intentionally unclear who that regime is – as if the curtain was pulled back to reveal a Wizard ill-prepared for the responsibilities of his power) designed to exploit but without any ability to create. In some ways as much Pynchon as Atwood.

The protagonist, Cedar, finds herself in a struggle to be human in a place that views her as a commodity with help in varying degrees, from her two families, one adopted and one biological.

In this environment rumors take the place of news and the offices one would think would be a part of this authoritarian government, like the Post Office and the National Guard, become at odds with it (sound familiar?). The traditional institutions attempt to preserve life while the new mixture of religion and law, the Church of the New Constitution attempts to preserve itself at any cost.

It is the old colonialist/capitalist mindset run amok, more horrifying because it is embedded in the minds of the citizens willing to turn each other in for food. The tension between the need to survive and the guilt over hurting fellow humans is shown on the faces and in the actions of the collectors, the postal workers, the medical staff. Even those who work in support of the regime find themselves used up.

Yet no one seems capable of breaking free of this idea that the commodification of people, especially women of child bearing age, is acceptable. Perhaps this mindset is summed up best in a late conversation between Cedar and her step-father Eddy who says “People sick for power have no song.” Which in one sense is a preference for the old, the human, the people who have been exploited time and time again by colonialists. But it is also a critique of the capitalism run amok in that it has no ability to create. It uses. A reality most horrifying in a hospital cemetery full of white crosses – those who did not survive childbirth - this system has no ability or interest in making birth safer, only in capturing those with an ability to survive it.

And it is this territory which Erdrich stakes out, a version that won’t go away with the defeat of one evil regime or tyrant, that moves into a more relevant, richer, more ambiguous story – one that is ultimately more horrifying. ( )
  DAGray08 | Jan 1, 2024 |
A page turner. Dystopian lit for a dystopian now. Pregnant women on the hunt in an effort to “save” humanity, all humanity is lost. Now, why would be? why must it be? Is it the simple take that women reduced to their use as baby makers must always end in dystopic nightmare? Why wouldn’t a society make it attractive and good? I know it is a dystopian novel, and I know humans can suck, but I guess I don’t understand the logic unless, as they like to say—the cruelty is the point.
  BookyMaven | Dec 6, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
The funny thing about this not-very-good novel is that there are so many good small things in it. Erdrich is such a gifted and (when she wants to be) earthy writer; her sentences can flash with wit and feeling, sunbursts of her imagination.
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Louise Erdrichprimary authorall editionscalculated
Mantovani, VincenzoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity. This Word manifests itself in every creature.
-Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)
Dedication
To
Gookoomisinaan
Kiizh
Light of my days
First words
August 7
When I tell you that my white name is Cedar Hawk Songmaker and that I am the adopted child of Minneapolis liberals, and that when I went looking for my Ojibwe parents and found that I was born Mary Potts I hid the knowledge, maybe you'll understand.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Fiction. Literature. HTML:

Louise Erdrich, the New York Times bestselling, National Book Award-winning author of LaRose and The Round House, paints a startling portrait of a young woman fighting for her life and her unborn child against oppressive forces that manifest in the wake of a cataclysmic event.

The world as we know it is ending. Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. Thirty-two-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted daughter of a pair of big-hearted, open-minded Minneapolis liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest of America around her. But for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant.

Though she wants to tell the adoptive parents who raised her from infancy, Cedar first feels compelled to find her birth mother, Mary Potts, an Ojibwe living on the reservation, to understand both her and her baby's origins. As Cedar goes back to her own biological beginnings, society around her begins to disintegrate, fueled by a swelling panic about the end of humanity.

There are rumors of martial law, of Congress confining pregnant women. Of a registry, and rewards for those who turn these wanted women in. Flickering through the chaos are signs of increasing repression: a shaken Cedar witnesses a family wrenched apart when police violently drag a mother from her husband and child in a parking lot. The streets of her neighborhood have been renamed with Bible verses. A stranger answers the phone when she calls her adoptive parents, who have vanished without a trace. It will take all Cedar has to avoid the prying eyes of potential informants and keep her baby safe.

A chilling dystopian novel both provocative and prescient, Future Home of the Living God is a startlingly original work from one of our most acclaimed writers: a moving meditation on female agency, self-determination, biology, and natural rights that speaks to the troubling changes of our time.

.

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