The Round House by Louise Erdrich - review by Pamela Norris

Pamela Norris

Indian Summer

The Round House


Corsair 338pp £17.99

The Round House, Louise Erdrich’s 14th novel for adults, is a thriller in which events take place on the North Dakota Ojibwe reservation already familiar to her readers. Set in the summer of 1988, the novel describes the effects of sudden violence on a close-knit family consisting of 13-year-old Joe, his mother, Geraldine, a tribal-enrolment specialist whose work gives her access to sensitive and confidential information, and his father, Antone Bazil Coutts, a thoughtful judge who married late in life and who works tirelessly to secure tribal rights within a flawed judicial system. 

When Geraldine is raped and savagely beaten by an attacker who then attempts to set her on fire, Joe’s boyhood abruptly comes to an end. Domestic comforts and family routine cease as Geraldine immures herself in her bedroom, ‘a place of utter loneliness from which she might never be retrieved’.

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RLF - March