Louise Erdrich is one of the most gifted, prolific, and challenging of American novelists. Her fiction reflects aspects of her mixed heritage: German through her father, and French and Ojibwa through her mother. She is the author of many novels, the first of which, Love Medicine, won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the last of which, The Round House, won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2012. She lives in Minnesota.
Erdrich's literary reputation, already formidable after Love Medicine and The Beet Queen , will be enhanced with this beautifully fashioned, powerful novel. Some of the characters in the previous books are here, but with a new dimension that renders this story the most riveting of the three, again set in North Dakota in the early 1900s. The narrative voice alternates between Nanapush, a wise old man of the Chippewa tribe, and Pauline, who abandons her Indian heritage in an obsessive conversion to Christianity. Both tell the story of Fleur Pillager, a magnificent woman who is rumored to be a witch, and whose life mirrors both the conflicts within the Indian community banded together in the face of an encroachingy white world, and the eventual supremacy of that world over their culture. Rescued by Nanapush after her family dies in an epidemic, and already rumored to have infuence over men's lives, Fleur ironically is the victim of gang rape when she leaves the reservation to work in the nearby town of Argus. Nanapush gives his name to Fleur's daughter Lulu, counsels Eli who loves and woos Fleur, and watches the betrayal of her pride and power. Pauline, who becomes a nun dedicated to martyrdom, has a role in hastening Fleur's destruction. Erdrich's writing is as poetic and strikingly imaged as before, and even more crystalline. She seamlessly interweaves scenes of everyday Indian life and the magical and supernatural world of their legends and beliefs. While the native American culture may be exotic to our understanding, the characters are universally human in their emotions. This is a stunning story about people caught in the grip of passion and in the inexorable flow of history. 100,000 copy first printing; $200,000 ad/promo; BOMC and QPBC selections. (September)
In her splendid new work, Erdrich retrieves characters from her first novel, Love Medicine , to depict the escalating conflict between two Chippewa families, a conflict begun when hapless Eli Kashpawwho has passionately pursued the fiery, elemental Fleur Pillageris made to betray her with young Sophie Morrissey through the magic of the vengeful Pauline. That simple summary belies the richness and complexity of the tale, told in turn to Fleur's estranged daughter by her ``grandfather,'' the wily Nanapush, and by Pauline, a woman of mixed blood and mixed beliefs soon to become the obsessive Sister Leopolda. As the community is eroded from withoutby white man's venalityand from within, even Fleur must realize that ``power goes under and gutters out.'' Not so for Erdrich, whose prose is as sharp, glittering, and to the point as cut glass. Highly recommended. Barbara Hoffert, ``Library Journal''
`What gives this novel its resonance is Erdrich's extraordinary ability to create not an approximation of the past but something that seems like a living, breathing evocation of it. It is a book of powerful, poetic images, in which myth and reality elide...the novel leaves behind an indelible impression.' Guardian
`Erdrich may soon come to be recognised as a writer possessed of greatness...Nanapush is a creation of the highest imaginative calibre.' The Times Literary Supplement
`There is no one else writing the kind of novel that Louise Erdrich does. She depicts the rural poor, and the heritage and present of the dwindling American Indians with an audacity and passion that continually surprise.' New Statesman
`The author captures the passions, fears, myths and doom of a living people, and she does so with an ease that leaves the reader breathless.' New Yorker