The Round House: a novel by Louise Erdrich


North Dakotan bred, Louise Erdrich writes a very compelling story about a rape case which lead to a real trauma for a family of 3: the father, judge in a fictional Indian reservation, the raped mother and their only child.  Their life abruptly changed and was never the same in the aftermath, the mother entering a world of her own where none of her family could share.

The  13 year-old son,Joe,  has a yearning for justice and will help his father in his investigations to find out the truth. Not sure the authorities would be keen on finding the criminal, he goes on his own quest, helped by a small bunch of teen- friends riding their bikes 😉 

Readers are transported to the unknown world of native Americans, here the Ojibwe and their rituals. A round house referring to The Shaking Tent ceremony: “one of the most sacred of Ojibwe ceremonies … serving to heal petitioners and to answer spiritual questions”. The round house being essential in this drama. 

Why did I choose this novel?

1- Out of nostalgia as I met, a long time ago, a few members of Lakota descent ( Crow Creek Sioux ) , and … still in touch, 40 years later.  Strangely enough, they never told me about Louise but they are South Dakotans 😉 Just kidding 😉  

2- For the magic of Native American way of getting on through life despite the hardships on a reservation. 

3- For the sake of discovering a new writer as I have a little more time to read right now ( winter time by the fire place. Just an image 😉 )

After reading the novel.

To a certain point, fiction shows life better than any documentary and paradoxically  manages to convey a real sense of reality. Here life on a reservation has a strong impact on the reader as we are immersed for a long time  where the action takes place : careful , visual and meaningful descriptions of the setting bathing in the  very specific atmosphere of a reservation with its colorful figures.  Louise Erdrich ‘s main character psychology is also very much delved into to allow the reader to understand how he turns into a murderer. 

This novel shows how difficult it is for Native Americans to have access to equal Justice for all, especially when white citizens are involved in criminal cases. 

In the book afterword, Louise Erdrich refers to ” Maze of Injustice,” a 2009 report by Amnesty International, included the following statistics: 1 out of 3 Native women will be raped in her lifetime ( and that figure is certainly higher as Native women often do not report rape); 86% of rape and sexual assaults upon Native Americans are perpetuated by non-Native men; few prosecuted.  😦 😦