Louise Erdrich grew up in North Dakota and is of German-American and Chippewa descent. Her books include The Beet Queen, Love Medicine, Tracks, The Bingo Palace, The Blue Jays Dance and Tales of Burning Love.
Erdrich suffuses Minneapolis with Native American spirit.
"A fiercely imagined tale of love and loss, a story that manages to transform tragedy into comic redemption, sorrow into heroic survival." New York Times "This is realism at its most magical, in a novel as satisfying as any Erdrich has written." Kirkus "Richly cadenced, deeply textured, Erdrich's writing has the lustre and sheen of poetry." Los Angeles Times "[An] extraordinary new offering of history, lore, obsession, loss, and love. Beautifully, extravagantly, in narrative fragments that mix metaphor and story, Erdrich creates a seemingly haphazard, totally absorbing series of oblique snapshots of these characters." San Francisco Chronicle
"Family stories repeat themselves in patterns and waves, generation to generation, across blood and time." Erdrich (Love Medicine, etc.) embroiders this theme in a sensuous novel that brings her back to the material she knows best, the emotionally dislocated lives of Native Americans who try to adhere to the tribal ways while yielding to the lure of the general culture. In a beautifully articulated tale of intertwined relationships among succeeding generations, she tells the story of the Roy and the Shawano families and their "colliding histories and destinies." The narrative begins like a fever dream with a U.S. cavalry attack on an Ojibwa village, the death of an old woman who utters a fateful word, the inadvertent kidnapping of a baby and a mother's heartbreaking quest. The descendants of the white soldier who takes the baby and of the bereaved Ojibwa mother are connected by a potent mix of tragedy, farce and mystical revelation. As time passes, there is another kidnapping, the death of a child and a suicide. Fates are determined by a necklace of blue beads, a length of sweetheart calico and a recipe for blitzkuchen. Though the saga is animated by obsessional love, mysterious disappearances, mythic legends and personal frailties, Erdrich also works in a comic vein. There's a dog who tells dirty jokes and a naked wife whose anniversary surprise has an audience. Throughout, Erdrich emphasizes the paradoxes of everyday life: braided grandmas who follow traditional ways and speak the old language also wear eyeliner and sneakers. In each generation, men and women are bewitched by love, lust and longing; they are slaves to drink, to carefully guarded secrets or to the mesmerizing power of hope. Though the plot sometimes bogs down from an overload of emotional complications, the novel ultimately celebrates the courage of following one's ordained path in the universe and meeting the challenges of fate. It is an assured example of Erdrich's storytelling skills. (Apr.)