|Born||Karen Louise Erdrich
June 7, 1954
Little Falls, Minnesota, United States
|Occupation||Novelist, short story writer, poet|
|Genres||Native American literature|
|Literary movement||Postmodernism, Native American Renaissance|
|Notable work(s)||Love Medicine, Tracks, The Beet Queen, The Bingo Palace, The Round House|
Karen Louise Erdrich, known as Louise Erdrich, (Little Falls, Minnesota June 7, 1954) is an American author of novels, poetry, and children's books featuring Native American characters and settings. She is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, a band of the Anishinaabe (also known as Ojibwa and Chippewa).
Erdrich is widely acclaimed as one of the most significant writers of the second wave of the Native American Renaissance. In 2009, her novel The Plague of Doves was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. In November 2012, she received the National Book Award for Fiction for her novel The Round House.
Early years 
The eldest of seven children, Erdrich was born in Little Falls, Minnesota, the daughter of Ralph Erdrich, a German-American, and his wife, Rita (née Gourneau), half French-American and half Ojibwe. Both of Erdrich’s parents taught at a boarding school in Wahpeton, North Dakota set up by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and her maternal grandfather, Patrick Gourneau, served as tribal chairman for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians for many years.
Erdrich attended Dartmouth College from 1972 to 1976 as part of the first coed class there, and earned a BA degree in English. There she also met her future husband, anthropologist and writer Michael Dorris, then-director of the newly established Dartmouth College Native American Studies program. Erdrich earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University in 1979. Edrich returned to Dartmouth in 2009 to receive an honorary Doctorate of Letters and deliver the commencement address to the graduating class of her alma mater.
As a child, Erdrich’s father paid her a nickel for every story she wrote. In 1979, Erdrich wrote “The World’s Greatest Fisherman”, a short story about June Kashpaw, a divorced Ojibwe woman whose death by hypothermia brought her relatives home to a fictional North Dakota reservation for her funeral. The story won the Nelson Algren Short Fiction prize and eventually became the first chapter of her debut novel, Love Medicine.
Love Medicine won the 1984 National Book Critics Circle Award. It has also been featured on the National Advanced Placement Test for Literature. Erdrich followed Love Medicine with The Beet Queen, which continued her technique of using multiple narrators, yet surprised many critics by expanding the fictional reservation universe of Love Medicine to include the nearby town of Argus, North Dakota. Native characters are very much kept in the background in The Beet Queen, while Erdrich focuses on the German-American community. The action of the novel takes place mostly before World War II. The Beet Queen was subject to a bitter attack from Native novelist Leslie Marmon Silko, who accused Erdrich of being more concerned with postmodern technique than with the political struggles of Native peoples. However, Erdrich and Silko appear to have overcome that disagreement and are now on more friendly terms, possibly because Erdrich has more firmly cemented herself in the Native Community with her bookstore and printing press.
In 2009, Erdrich’s novel The Plague of Doves was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. The narrative focuses on the historical lynching of four Native people wrongly accused of murdering a Caucasian family, and the effect of this injustice on the current generations. Tracks goes back to the early 20th century at the formation of the reservation and introduces the trickster figure of Nanapush, who owes a clear debt to Nanabozho. Erdrich’s novel most rooted in Anishinaabe culture (at least until Four Souls), Tracks shows early clashes between traditional ways and the Roman Catholic Church. The Bingo Palace updates, yet does not resolve, various conflicts from Love Medicine. Set in the 1980s, it describes the good and bad effects of a casino and a factory on the reservation community. Finally, Tales of Burning Love finishes the story of Sister Leopolda, a recurring character from all the previous books, and introduces a new set of white people into the reservation universe.
Erdrich’s first novel after her divorce, The Antelope Wife, was the first to be set outside the continuity of the previous books. She subsequently returned to the reservation and nearby towns, and has published five novels since 1998 dealing with events in that fictional area. Among these are The Master Butchers Singing Club, a macabre mystery that again draws on Erdrich's Native American and German-American heritage, and The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. Both have geographic and character connections with The Beet Queen.
Together with several of her previous works, these have drawn comparisons with William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha novels. Erdrich's successive novels created multiple narratives in the same fictional area and combined the tapestry of local history with current themes and modern consciousness.
Usually classified first as a Native American writer, and a contributor to the Native American Renaissance, reviewers and critics often compare her work to that of William Faulkner and of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The comparison with Faulkner is drawn from the extensive and tangled family trees of her characters, and also from her use of a fictional reservation that becomes just as solid and real as Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County. With Garcia Marquez the comparison rests more on her use of folk magic and ritual drawn from the Native culture she shares with her characters, as the experience magical realism is drawn from the Hispanic culture Garcia Marquez shares with his. One could also compare her work to Isabel Allende’s, which has both magical realism and twisted family trees extending over generations. It is just as apt to say, however, that her work has few true comparisons and that she has created a genre all her own.
Personal life 
Erdrich married Michael Dorris in 1981 and they raised three adopted and three biological children before their separation in 1995 and Dorris’s suicide in 1997. Erdrich lives in Minnesota, near the three daughters she had with Dorris (Persia Andromeda, Pallas Antigone, and Aza Marion) and her fourth daughter (Kiizh), born in 2000. Her eldest daughter helps out at the bookstore, Birchbark Books.
One sister, Heidi, is a poet who also lives in Minnesota and publishes under the name Heid E. Erdrich. Another sister, Lise Erdrich, has written children's books and collections of fiction and essays. For the past few years, the three Erdrich sisters have hosted annual writers' workshops on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in North Dakota.
The award-winning photographer Ronald W. Erdrich is one of her cousins. He lives and works in Abilene, Texas. He was named "Star Photojournalist of the Year" in 2004 by the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors association.
Birchbark Books 
Erdrich’s independent bookstore is something of a visitor’s attraction in Minneapolis, as is Garrison Keillor’s bookstore in St. Paul. Both reveal the strong literary culture of the Twin Cities (Neil Gaiman and Nuruddin Farah also live in the vicinity). Of the two, however, Erdrich’s bookstore is something a little more than just a place to browse books. It has more atmosphere than you might expect, from the canoe hanging from the ceiling to the upcycled Roman Catholic confessional decorated with sweetgrass, from the nooks and crannies for reading in the store, to the detailed recommendations taped to the shelves. The bookstore also hosts literary readings and other events, celebrating the release of each of Erdrich’s new works, but also the works and careers of other writers, particularly local Native writers. Erdrich and her staff consider Brichbark Books to be a “teaching bookstore”  and as such they provide a wealth of resources to school teachers both in person and online. In addition to books the store sells Native art and traditional medicines, and it is something of a locus for Native literati in the Twin Cities. The store is also famous for selling Native American jewelry. A small nonprofit publisher founded by Erdrich and her sister, Wiigwaas Press, is affiliated with the store and books published by Wiigwaas can be bought on the Birchbark Books website.
List of Works 
- Love Medicine (1984)
- The Beet Queen (1986)
- Tracks (1988)
- The Crown of Columbus [coauthored with Michael Dorris] (1991)
- The Bingo Palace (1994)
- Tales of Burning Love (1997)
- The Antelope Wife (1998)
- The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse (2001)
- The Master Butchers Singing Club (2003)
- Four Souls (2004)
- The Painted Drum (2005)
- The Plague of Doves (Harper, 2008)
- Shadow Tag (Harper, 2010)
- The Round House (2012)
Story collections 
- The Red Convertible: Collected and New Stories 1978-2008 (2009)
Children's literature 
- Grandmother's Pigeon (1996)
- The Birchbark House (1999)
- The Range Eternal (2002)
- The Game of Silence (2005)
- The Porcupine Year (2008)
- Chickadee (2012)
- Jacklight (1984)
- Baptism of Desire (1989)
- Original Fire: Selected and New Poems (2003)
- Route Two [coauthored with Michael Dorris] (1990)
- The Blue Jay’s Dance: A Birthyear (1995)
- Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country (2003)
As editor or contributor 
- The Broken Cord by Michael Dorris (Foreword) (1989)
- The Best American Short Stories 1993 (Editor, with Katrina Kenison) (1993)
- O. Henry Award, for the short story "Fleur" (published in Esquire, August 1986) (1987)
- Pushcart Prize in Poetry (1983)
- Western Literacy Association Award
- Guggenheim Fellowship in Creative Arts (1985)
- National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, for Love Medicine (1984)
- World Fantasy Award, for The Antelope Wife (1999)
- Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas (2000).
- Associate Poet Laureate of North Dakota, 2005
- Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, for the children's book "The Game of Silence" (2006)
- April 2007 honorary doctorate from the University of North Dakota; refused by Erdrich because of her opposition to the university's North Dakota Fighting Sioux mascot
- June 2009, honorary doctorate (Doctor of Letters) from Dartmouth College
- Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, for Plague of Doves (2009)
- National Book Award for Fiction for The Round House (2012)
- Rough Rider Award (April 19, 2013)
See also 
- List of writers from peoples indigenous to the Americas
- Native American Renaissance
- Native American Studies
- "Louise Erdrich". Contemporary Authors Online. Gale. 2009. Retrieved November 21, 2009.
- Leslie Kaufman (November 14, 2012). "Novel About Racial Injustice Wins National Book Award". New York Times. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
- Birchbark Books website
- "Faces of America: Louise Erdrich", PBS, Faces of America series, with Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 2010.
- Interview, Paris Review, Art of Fiction #208
- Author: Louise Erdrich
- AP Literature: Titles from Open Response Questions
- The controversy and fallout from this review, and some of its underlying themes, are reviewed in Susan Castillo's "Postmodernism, Native American Literature, and the Real: The Silko-Erdrich Controversy" in Notes from the Periphery: Marginality in North American Literature and Culture New York: Peter Lang, 1995. 179-190.
- There are many studies of the trickster figure in Erdrich's novels: A recent study that makes the connection between Nanabozho and Nanpush is "The Trickster and World Maintenance: An Anishinaabe Reading of Louise Erdrich's Tracks" by Lawrence W. Gross 
- Lorena Laura Stookey, Louise Erdrich: A Critical Companion, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999 ISBN 0-313-30612-5, ISBN 978-0-313-30612-9
- See, e.g., Powell's Books (book review), Christian Science Monitor, August 2, 2004
- The Three Graces, Minneapolis Star Tribune, February 4, 2008, retrieved September 23, 2010
- O. Henry Winners 1919-2000
- World Fantasy Convention (2010). "Award Winners and Nominees". Retrieved 04 Feb 2011.
- List of NWCA Lifetime Achievement Awards, accessed 6 August 2010.
- Author Louise Erdrich rejects UND honor over 'Sioux' nickname | Minnesota Public Radio News
- Dartmouth 2009 Honorary Degree Recipient Louise Erdrich '76 (Doctor of Letters)
- Native American author Louise Erdrich '76 to give Dartmouth's 2009 Commencement address Sunday, June 14
- Anisfiled-Wolf Book Award Winners: Plague of Doves
- National Book Award for Fiction: Louise Erdrich's Roundhouse
- Dartmouth Alumna Louise Erdrich wins National Book Award