Goodness me, here I am playing catch-up again. My review of The Round House appeared in Shelf Awareness and is appearing here now with their permission. The Round House also won the National Book Award last month.
Joe Coutts narrates Louise Erdrich’s (The Plague of Doves) new novel in flashback to 1988. The complete absence of quotation marks throughout the narrative works to take the reader further inside the mind of an Ojibwe man recalling the most traumatic events of his life.
The opening image of the novel, sapling trees damaging the foundation of the Coutts home, thirteen-year-old Joe and his father working to uproot the invaders, symbolizes the fragility Erdrich depicts throughout the book. Joe’s mother Geraldine is violently raped and despite knowing exactly who raped her, law enforcement is powerless to prosecute because she is unaware exactly where the rape took place. This leaves jurisdiction in question.
The tribal legal system that Joe studied and worshipped through his judge father failed him. This horror enduringly altered his life’s foundation, and the only thing he knows for certain is that he must do something to restore it.
The Round House is a picture of magnificent contradictions, and Joe’s experience is a microcosm of the overall Native American history: abominable experiences invade the trusted foundation but the strength and determination of the people empowers them to adapt and survive. Erdrich’s stunning novel reminds readers that it is a crime they ever had to adapt in the first place.
Passionate prose, heartbreakingly realistic characters and an intimate understanding of the Native American cultures and experiences make The Round House a novel that will irreversibly alter the foundation of each of its readers.
The Round House is available in hardcover (ISBN: 9780062065247) or unabridged audiobook (ISBN: 9780062204943) from Harper.