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The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich
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The Night Watchman (original 2020; edition 2020)

by Louise Erdrich (Author)

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3272757,501 (4.11)29
New York Times Bestseller Based on the extraordinary life of National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich's  grandfather who worked as a night watchman and carried the fight against Native dispossession from rural North Dakota all the way to Washington, D.C., this powerful novel explores themes of love and death with lightness and gravity and unfolds with the elegant prose, sly humor, and depth of feeling of a master craftsman. Thomas Wazhashk is the night watchman at the jewel bearing plant, the first factory located near the Turtle Mountain Reservation in rural North Dakota. He is also a Chippewa Council member who is trying to understand the consequences of a new "emancipation" bill on its way to the floor of the United States Congress. It is 1953 and he and the other council members know the bill isn't about freedom; Congress is fed up with Indians. The bill is a "termination" that threatens the rights of Native Americans to their land and their very identity. How can the government abandon treaties made in good faith with Native Americans "for as long as the grasses shall grow, and the rivers run"? Since graduating high school, Pixie Paranteau has insisted that everyone call her Patrice. Unlike most of the girls on the reservation, Patrice, the class valedictorian, has no desire to wear herself down with a husband and kids. She makes jewel bearings at the plant, a job that barely pays her enough to support her mother and brother. Patrice's shameful alcoholic father returns home sporadically to terrorize his wife and children and bully her for money. But Patrice needs every penny to follow her beloved older sister, Vera, who moved to the big city of Minneapolis. Vera may have disappeared; she hasn't been in touch in months, and is rumored to have had a baby. Determined to find Vera and her child, Patrice makes a fateful trip to Minnesota that introduces her to unexpected forms of exploitation and violence, and endangers her life. Thomas and Patrice live in this impoverished reservation community along with young Chippewa boxer Wood Mountain and his mother Juggie Blue, her niece and Patrice's best friend Valentine, and Stack Barnes, the white high school math teacher and boxing coach who is hopelessly in love with Patrice. In the Night Watchman, Louise Erdrich creates a fictional world populated with memorable characters who are forced to grapple with the worst and best impulses of human nature. Illuminating the loves and lives, the desires and ambitions of these characters with compassion, wit, and intelligence, The Night Watchman is a majestic work of fiction from this revered cultural treasure.… (more)
Member:cinstatelibrary
Title:The Night Watchman
Authors:Louise Erdrich (Author)
Info:Harper (2020), 464 pages
Collections:Fiction
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The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich (2020)

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Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
I love Louise Erdrich's writing, this novel is no exception. Wonderful interwoven characters and story lines. So important now (2020) in the context of systemic racism in the US, not just toward Blacks, but towards Native Americans and all people of color. ( )
  Grace.Van.Moer | Sep 8, 2020 |
Louise Erdrich is a writer who has written many books and for me the main focus has been about her novels about Native Americans. She is from that heritage so she writes from first hand experience. This book is based on her grandfather who worked as a night watchman in a jewel bearing factory and also as an officer in the Turtle Mountain tribe in North Dakota. The story revolves around the fight in 1953 to prevent the termination act from impacting their tribe. This act would have eliminated federal support for their tribe while moving them off the reservation into the general population. The book is about this struggle to defeat the act, but is told mainly through the characters that populate the reservation. The book deals with many elements of Native American life including the poverty of the reservation, the connection to the spirit life, living off the land, and the sense of community and the desire to keep their heritage. This is a worthwhile read for its historical lessons but it also gives you insight into the Native American struggle against the onslaught of colonial white European destruction of their tribes as they took over the North American continent. ( )
  nivramkoorb | Aug 16, 2020 |
Louise Erdrich's style and narrative choices are a perfect illustration of how a clear, minute vision expressed simply can make uniquely devastating art. The novel swings from frustrating political tension to the hidden horrors of human trafficking to White obtuseness with perfect clarity and boundless tenderness, even for the silly Barnes, lovesick for the nonexistent Native woman he's projected onto Patrice Paranteau: the beatific maiden depicted on a butter carton. It's pointless to try to summarize the interweaving of the on- and off-reservation worlds, the richly varied pantheon of characters. The book must be read, not summarized. A slice of contemporary American history you've probably never seen before, rendered without sentimentality but with a lot of love. ( )
  deeEhmm | Aug 13, 2020 |
In 1953, Thomas Wazhashk is working as the night watchman in the Turtle Mountain Reservation's sole industry, a small jewel-bearing plant, when he finds out about a bill before Congress to terminate the tribe's right to the land and to the nominal support they receive. Patrice "Pixie" Parenteau is a young woman working in the plant, thankful for the work as she is supporting her mother and brother. Her father is an alcoholic and the family dreads his returns home. Her sister has disappeared into Minneapolis and Patrice decides to go to the city and find her. Wood Mountain is a promising young boxer being coached by the white English teacher. All he wants is a fair fight, to work with horses and a chance with Patrice.

Louise Erdrich knows how to tell a story and with The Night Watchman, she demonstrates her mastery of the novel. It's perfectly paced, even as she takes the time to make each character come alive. Patrice and her uncle Thomas a good foils for each other, Thomas proceeding in a methodical way and full of appreciation for his life, Patrice barreling into dangerous situations as she fights to find her sister and keep her family afloat. It's just so very well done. ( )
  RidgewayGirl | Jul 20, 2020 |
The Night Watchman tells the story of the Turtle Mountain Reservation saving their tribe from termination. It interweaves the stories of their personal lives also. I have never read Louise Erdrich before although I had The Round House on my TBR list for many years.

At the beginning of The Night Watchman, I was reading very quickly and couldn't wait to see what happened next. The character development of Pixie and Thomas was very well done. I liked learning about the termination fight and wished that Erdrich would have focused more on that versus the personal relationships of people in Turtle Mountain.

It took me almost two weeks to read this book which is why I only gave it 3 and 1/2 stars. Towards the middle it started to drag and I wasn't motivated to pick it up and see what happened next. ( )
  kayanelson | Jul 18, 2020 |
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To Aunishenaubay, Patrick Gourneau; to his daughter Rita, my mother; and to all of the American Indian leaders wo fought against termination.
Afterword: My Grandfather's Letters-Aunishenaubay, Patrick Gourneau, was the chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Advisory Committee during the mid-1950s, supposedly the golden age for America, but in reality a time when Jim Crow reigned and American Indians were at the nadir of power--our traditional religions outlawed, our land base continually and illegally seized (even as now) by resource extraction companies, our languages weakened by government boarding schools.
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Thomas Wazhashk removed his thermos from his armpit and set it on the steel desk alongside his scuffed briefcase.
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New York Times Bestseller Based on the extraordinary life of National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich's  grandfather who worked as a night watchman and carried the fight against Native dispossession from rural North Dakota all the way to Washington, D.C., this powerful novel explores themes of love and death with lightness and gravity and unfolds with the elegant prose, sly humor, and depth of feeling of a master craftsman. Thomas Wazhashk is the night watchman at the jewel bearing plant, the first factory located near the Turtle Mountain Reservation in rural North Dakota. He is also a Chippewa Council member who is trying to understand the consequences of a new "emancipation" bill on its way to the floor of the United States Congress. It is 1953 and he and the other council members know the bill isn't about freedom; Congress is fed up with Indians. The bill is a "termination" that threatens the rights of Native Americans to their land and their very identity. How can the government abandon treaties made in good faith with Native Americans "for as long as the grasses shall grow, and the rivers run"? Since graduating high school, Pixie Paranteau has insisted that everyone call her Patrice. Unlike most of the girls on the reservation, Patrice, the class valedictorian, has no desire to wear herself down with a husband and kids. She makes jewel bearings at the plant, a job that barely pays her enough to support her mother and brother. Patrice's shameful alcoholic father returns home sporadically to terrorize his wife and children and bully her for money. But Patrice needs every penny to follow her beloved older sister, Vera, who moved to the big city of Minneapolis. Vera may have disappeared; she hasn't been in touch in months, and is rumored to have had a baby. Determined to find Vera and her child, Patrice makes a fateful trip to Minnesota that introduces her to unexpected forms of exploitation and violence, and endangers her life. Thomas and Patrice live in this impoverished reservation community along with young Chippewa boxer Wood Mountain and his mother Juggie Blue, her niece and Patrice's best friend Valentine, and Stack Barnes, the white high school math teacher and boxing coach who is hopelessly in love with Patrice. In the Night Watchman, Louise Erdrich creates a fictional world populated with memorable characters who are forced to grapple with the worst and best impulses of human nature. Illuminating the loves and lives, the desires and ambitions of these characters with compassion, wit, and intelligence, The Night Watchman is a majestic work of fiction from this revered cultural treasure.

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