The Round House by Louise Erdrich has been selected by public vote as this year’s book of choice for Saratoga Reads, a community-wide reading program now marking its 11th year.
The Round House, Erdrich's 14th novel and winner of the 2012 National Book Award for fiction, transports readers to a literary terrain that Erdrich has used in a number of her works–the North Dakota Ojibwe reservation, a place where contemporary Native Americans and their white neighbors navigate complex interrelationships.
The narrator of the book, Joe Coutts, is one of Erdrich's most memorable characters, a 13-year-old boy who hunts for the perpetrator of a violent crime that took place on the reservation. Though this story of family, friendship, and the search for justice stands on its own, it fits squarely in the writer’s overarching, interconnected literary vision.
The Round House is infused with Erdrich's trademark narrative excursions into a world of spirit and tradition still central to Native American cultures. Set in 1988 and driven by contemporary issues of tribal criminal jurisdiction, the book probes the life of marginalized Indians living on the reservation.
Wrote Ron Charles in the Washington Post, "Book by book, over the past three decades, Louise Erdrich has built one of the most moving and engrossing collections of novels in American literature. Few writers have done as much to help modern readers consider the position of Native Americans within a national culture that has denigrated, ignored, and romanticized them."
Maria Russo in the New York Times Book Review wrote, "The Round House represents something of a departure for Erdrich, whose past novels of Indian life have usually relied on a rotating cast of narrators, a kind of storytelling chorus. Here, though, Joe is the only narrator, and the urgency of his account gives the action the momentum and tight focus of a crime novel, which, in a sense, it is."