The Round House

Well, Anna and Rebecca deserve awards for continue to slog away at Atlas Shrugged–I mean, my God, will that thing ever end? I, meanwhile, continue to read fantasy stories and romance novels and light, fluffy fun things that make no attempt to develop a new political philosophy. But I did just finish a lovely, quality book that I wanted to mention: The Round House by Louise Erdrich.

Erdrich is known for writing very literary novels about the American Indian experience (I’m using Indian, not Native American, since that’s what Erdrich most often does), often with a hint of magical realism. I’ve tried to read some of her work in the past and never really connected with it, but her latest novel won the National Book Award and was described as a mystery–I was intrigued. And I really enjoyed it!

The story, narrated by a teenage Indian boy, centers around a crime that happens on a Chippewa reservation, and how the main character and his family deal with the aftermath and try to figure out who did it. However, the mystery is secondary, in a lot of ways, to the descriptions of life as an Indian teenager. The details–from what the characters are eating to how they speak–are striking and Erdich does an amazing job of getting inside the head of a teenaged boy, who usually feel to me like they are members of an entirely different species. While this book didn’t have the driving, page-turning quality of Gone Girl, I enjoyed the mystery and the characters, and I would recommend this a starting point for Erdich’s work.

Kinsey’s Three Word Review: Haunting, lyrical mystery.

You might also like: Any of Tana French’s mysteries or, if you’d like to read more about life on a reservation, Sherman Alexie.

3 comments on “The Round House

  1. Anna says:

    So, first of all, no, Atlas Shrugged will never, ever end.

    Second of all, I heard that some native people are returning to “Indian” as a race title since their people predate “America” as a word and an entity, so “Native American” is insulting in that it describes them through the entity that did its best to destroy them.

    Third of all, this book sounds great! I was wondering if this was the same writer who wrote a novel I read several years about an Indian woman battling an ancient vampiric entity. It was definitely magical realism set on an Indian reservation, but I don’t think it is the same author, and my memory of it is so vague that I can’t seem to track it down.

    • Kinsey says:

      I doubt it was the same writer–this is the most genre thing I think Erdrich’s ever done and it’s just barely genre. But she’s a beautiful writer, so I would recommend it.

  2. This was SO good. I kept fearing I would finish it without the resolution I so badly wanted…

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