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The Round House: A Novel Paperback – September 24, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (September 24, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062065254
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062065254
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,295 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Likely to be dubbed the Native American To Kill a Mockingbird, Louise Erdrich’s moving, complex, and surprisingly uplifting new novel tells of a boy’s coming of age in the wake of a brutal, racist attack on his mother. Drawn from real-life statistics about racially inspired attacks on our country’s reservations, this tale is forceful but never preachy, thanks in large part to Erdrich’s understated but glorious prose and her apparent belief in the redemptive power of storytelling. --Sara Nelson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“The novel showcases her [Erdrich’s] extraordinary ability to delineate the ties of love, resentment, need, duty and sympathy that bind families together…[a] powerful novel.” (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times)

“Emotionally compelling…Joe is an incredibly endearing narrator, full of urgency and radiant candor…the story he tells transforms a sad, isolated crime into a revelation about how maturity alters our relationship with our parents, delivering us into new kinds of love and pain.” (Ron Charles, Washington Post)

“A gripping mystery with a moral twist: Revenge might be the harshest punishment, but only for the victims. A-” (Entertainment Weekly)

“THE ROUND HOUSE is filled with stunning language that recalls shades of Faulkner, García Márquez and Toni Morrison. Deeply moving, this novel ranks among Erdrich’s best work, and it is impossible to forget.” (USA Today)

“Moving, complex, and surprisingly uplifting…likely to be dubbed the Native American TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD” (Parade, Fall's Best Books)

“Erdrich never shields the reader or Joe from the truth…She writes simply, without flourish.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

“An artfully balanced mystery, thriller and coming-of-age story…this novel will have you reading at warp speed to see what happens next.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

“Erdrich’s bittersweet contemplation of love and friendship, morality and generativity…result in a tender, tough coming-of-age tale.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

“A powerful human story…By boring deeply into one person’s darkest episode, Erdrich hits the bedrock truth about a whole community.” (New York Times Book Review)

“Erdrich has given us a multitude of narrative voices and stories. Never before has she given us a novel with a single narrative voice so smart, rich and full of surprises as she has in The Round House…and, I would argue, her best so far.” (NPR/All Thing's Considered)

“Haunting…a bittersweet coming-of-age tale…tender but unsentimental and buoyed by subtle wit” (People)

“THE ROUND HOUSE is a stunning piece of architecture. It is carefully, lovingly, disarmingly constructed. Even the digressions demand strict attention.” (Newsday)

“One of the most pleasurable aspects of Erdrich’s writing…is that while her narratives are loose and sprawling, the language is always tight and poetically compressed…In the end there’s nothing, not the arresting plot or the shocking ending of THE ROUND HOUSE, that resonates as much as the characters.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

“Wise and suspenseful…Erdrich’s voice as well as her powers of insight and imagination fully infuse this novel…She writes so perceptively and brilliantly about the adolescent passion for justice that one is transported northward to her home territory.” (Chicago Tribune)

“Joe may be one of Erdrich’s best-drawn characters; he’s conflicted, feisty one moment, scared and disappointed the next. THE ROUND HOUSE will inevitably draw comparisons to Harper Lee’s TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD…” (Miami Herald)

“A sweeping, suspenseful outing from this prizewinning, generation-spanning chronicler of her Native American people, the Ojibwe of the northern plains...a sumptuous tale.” (Elle)

“Erdrich threads a gripping mystery and multilayered portrait of a community through a deeply affecting coming-of-age novel.” (Karen Holt, O, the Oprah Magazine)

“A stunning and devastating tale of hate crimes and vengeance…Erdrich covers a vast spectrum of history, cruel loss, and bracing realizations. A preeminent tale in an essential American saga.” (Donna Seaman, Booklist, Starred Review of THE ROUND HOUSE)

“The story pulses with urgency as she [Erdrich] probes the moral and legal ramifications of a terrible act of violence.” (Publishers Weekly, Starred Review of THE ROUND HOUSE)

“Erdrich skillfully makes Joe’s coming-of-age both universal and specific…the story is also ripe with detail about reservation life, and with her rich cast of characters, Erdrich provides flavor, humor and depth. Joe’s relationship with his father, Bazil, a judge, has echoes of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.” (Library Journal, Starred Review of THE ROUND HOUSE)

“Riveting…One of Erdrich’s most suspenseful novels.... It vividly portrays both the deep tragedy and crazy comedy of life.” (BookPage, Cover/Feature Review)

“Each new Erdrich novel adds new layers of pathos and comedy, earthiness and spiritual questing, to her priceless multigenerational drama. THE ROUND HOUSE is one of her best -- concentrated, suspenseful, and morally profound.” (Jane Ciabattari, Boston Globe)

“Louise Erdrich’s prose is spare, precise, smooth as polished stone. Her books are rich with literary muscle.” -Austin American-Statesman (Austin American-Statesman)

“The story draws the reader unstoppably page by page.” (Seattle Times)

“While Erdrich is known as a brilliant chronicler of the American Indian experience, her insights into our family, community, and spiritual lives transcend any category.” (Reader's Digest)

“Poignant and surprisingly funny, it’s the acclaimed writer’s best book yet.” (O, the Oprah Magazine, "Our Favorite Reads of 2012")

More About the Author

Louise Erdrich is the author of twelve novels as well as volumes of poetry, children's books, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her debut novel, Love Medicine, won the National Book Critics Circle Award. The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her most recent novel, The Plague of Doves, a New York Times bestseller, received the highest praise from Philip Roth, who wrote, "Louise Erdrich's imaginative freedom has reached its zenith--The Plague of Doves is her dazzling masterpiece." Louise Erdrich lives in Minnesota with her daughters and is the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

343 of 365 people found the following review helpful By Jill I. Shtulman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Round House digs deep into unearthing the very nature of justice in a world that is rarely just and seldom fair.

Our narrator - an Ojibwe lawyer named Joe Coutts - recalls his 13th summer from the perspective of time. Joe's position as the only child of tribal judge Bazil Coutts and tribal clerk Geraldine Coutts kept him feeling loved and secure until his mother is brutally and sadistically raped as she attempts to retrieve a potentially damning file. Although the rapist is rather quickly identified, the location of the rape--in the vicinity of a sacred round house - lies within that "no-man's land" where tribal courts are in charge and the neighboring Caucasians cannot be prosecuted, no matter how heinous the crime. Thrust into an adult world, Joe and his best friends Cappy, Zack and Angus are propelled to seek their own answers.

This novel shines for many reasons, particularly because of the urgency and power of the descriptions. The aftermath of the rape is described in unflinching and dynamic prose - no manipulation, and no turning away. One of the ancillary yet important characters - the damaged and conflicted Father Travis, a war veteran - is so beautifully and powerfully fleshed out that it is impossible to not be riveted to the page. Each character, in fact, is realistically drawn, complete with the ambiguities that reside in each of us.

This is a finely nuanced novel that, like a Rubik's cube, examines violence and our responsibilities in a number of ways. One of them is through the prism of religion: the Roman Catholic belief that every evil ultimately can be transfigured to good as opposed to tribal justice traditions. Ms.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Author Louise Erdrich, a member of the Chippewa (Ojibwa) nation, here writes one of her most powerful and emotionally involving novels. Though it starts as a crime story on the reservation, it quickly becomes an intense search for justice on all levels. It is also an examination of the lives of her characters, both old and young, as they face the challenges of reservation life. Their lives, as she shows in this novel, are seriously restricted by 1988, when this novel's action takes place, and any Native American who wants to honor the "old ways" on the reservation must now survive on infertile lands which cannot support him. Their culture has been seriously compromised by the arrival of Catholic missionaries who have weaned them away from their myths and traditions. Significantly, legal jurisdiction over crimes involving Native Americans now involves tribal officials, state police, and even the FBI.

In a powerful opening scene, filled with symbols and portents, thirteen-year-old Antone Basil Coutts (Joe), only child and namesake of Judge Coutts and his wife Geraldine, is helping his father to pull tiny seedlings from cracks in the foundation of their house, awaiting Geraldine's return from her office. When she finally arrives at home, she is almost unrecognizable, so badly beaten she can hardly see, reeking of gasoline and so traumatized by rape and other crimes that she has become mute. Young Joe knows that it will be up to him and his father to identify who has done this. They begin to study his father's old cases searching clues.

Joe is still a child, however, and though his empathetic father wants to protect him as much as possible, Joe becomes obsessed with getting his mother "back," determined to find and punish the rapist on his own.
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183 of 212 people found the following review helpful By Amelia Gremelspacher TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 7, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In Round House, we are taken to the world of the reservation through the eyes of Joe. His father is a Justice and his mother works the census, thus knowing the secrets of the world around them. When his mother is brutally raped, Joe roams his world seeking to find a way to return his mother to the world of the living and protect her. He and his best friend Cappy come to understand what passes for justice on the reservation. On his search, we are taught the inner world of spirituality that he inhabits and the adults teach and reveal to him. From his family he learns the basis of his moral code, and a priest describes the sins that cry out to heaven for justice.
Enrich uses details to paint this world. Adults remember the first Birkenstocks seen on the reservation. Joe and his friends locate a stash of Hamm's beer and try to determine what type of person left that brand. The houses are so clearly described, we can envision ourselves walking into them.
The people who live here are also vivid to our minds. Their clothing and their walks reveal themselves to the reader.
These characters are diverse and open to our hearts. Erdrich builds a masterful novel which is well worth the read. When it ends, we blink our eyes startled to return to our chairs.
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219 of 261 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Brody TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In 1988, Geraldine Coutts gets a phone call telling her to go to the Round House on her reservation. There she is raped and beaten. With her is a young woman named Mayla and Mayla's little girl. The story of their ordeal is slowly revealed in this compelling novel.

Geraldine's husband is the head judge of the Ojibwe nation in North Dakota. He and Geraldine have a son named Joe who is slowly placed in the role of parental child as his mother retreats more and more into herself and does not leave her bedroom. She is suffering from depression and trauma that separates herself from the rest of the world.

Who is responsible for this crime in the criminal justice system - the white criminal system or the Indian system? This comes into question time and time again.

Joe relies more and more on his closest friends - Cappy, Zack and Angus - for support. His father is emotionally distant and his mother is gone from him completely as she stays in her darkened room in silence.

This is one of Erdrich's stronger books. It is heavy and intense with with some lightness of spirit to offset the intensity.
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