|Born||Karen Louise Erdrich
June 7, 1954
Little Falls, Minnesota, USA
|Occupation||Novelist, short story writer, poet|
|Genres||Native American literature, children's books|
|Literary movement||Postmodernism, Native American Renaissance|
Louise Erdrich (born Karen Louise Erdrich, June 7, 1954, Little Falls, Minnesota, United States) is an American writer 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. She was married to author Michael Dorris and the two collaborated on a number of works.
Early and personal life
Erdrich was born in Little Falls, Minnesota, the first of seven children to Ralph Erdrich, a German-American, and his wife Rita (née Gourneau), half French-American and half Ojibwe. Both 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. As a child, Erdrich's father paid her a nickel for every story she wrote. Her sister Heidi is a poet who also lives in Minnesota and publishes under the name Heidi E. Erdrich. Another sister, Lise Erdrich, has written children's books and collections of fiction and essays.
Erdrich attended Dartmouth College from 1972 to 1976 as part of its first co-ed class, and earned the B.A. in English. There she met her future husband, anthropologist and writer Michael Dorris, then-director of the new Native American Studies program. Erdrich earned the Master of Arts in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University in 1979. Erdrich married Michael Dorris in 1981 and they raised three adopted children and three biological children until their separation in 1995 and Dorris' suicide in 1997. Erdrich lives in Minnesota.
Her heritage from both parents is not only influential to all aspects of her life, but prominent to her work.
In 1979 she 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. It won the Nelson Algren Short Fiction prize and eventually became the first chapter of her debut novel, Love Medicine, published by Holt, Rinehart, and Winston in 1984.
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 (1986), 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.
Tracks (1988) 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 (1994) 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 (1997) 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.
The Antelope Wife (1998), Erdrich's first novel after her divorce from Dorris, was the first of her novels 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 Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse (2001) and The Master Butchers Singing Club (2003), a macabre mystery that again draws on Erdrich's Native American and German-American heritage. Both novels have geographic and character connections with The Beet Queen. 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.
Erdrich's complexly interwoven series of novels have drawn comparisons with William Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha novels. Like Faulkner's, 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.
The bookstore hosts literary readings and other events, including the release of each of Erdrich's new works as well as the works and careers of other writers, particularly local Native writers. Erdrich and her staff consider Birchbark Books to be a “teaching bookstore”. In addition to books, the store sells Native art and traditional medicines, and Native American jewelry. A small nonprofit publisher founded by Erdrich and her sister, Wiigwaas Press, is affiliated with the store.
- 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)
- The Red Convertible: Collected and New Stories 1978-2008 (2009)
- 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)
- Stookey, Lorena Laura (1999-01-01). Louise Erdrich: A Critical Companion. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 1–. ISBN 9780313306129. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
- "Louise Erdrich : Voices From the Gaps : University of Minnesota". Voices.cla.umn.edu. Retrieved 2013-10-23.
- Leslie Kaufman (November 14, 2012). "Novel About Racial Injustice Wins National Book Award". New York Times. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
- "Birchbark Books & Native Arts | Minneapolis, MN | Welcome!". Birchbarkbooks.com. Retrieved 2013-10-23.
- "Faces of America: Louise Erdrich", PBS, Faces of America series, with Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 2010.
- Lisa Halliday (Winter 2010). "Louise Erdrich, The Art of Fiction No. 208". Paris Review.
- The Three Graces, Minneapolis Star Tribune, February 4, 2008, retrieved September 23, 2010
- "Louise Erdrich: About the Author: HarperCollins Publishers". Harpercollins.com. 2010-03-24. Retrieved 2013-10-23.
- "AP Literature: Titles from Free Response Questions since 1971". Mseffie.com. 2013-05-13. Retrieved 2013-10-23.
- 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
- "Our Story | Birchbark Books & Native Arts | Minneapolis, MN". Birchbarkbooks.com. Retrieved 2013-10-23.
- "Bold Type: O. Henry Award Winners 1919-2000". Randomhouse.com. Retrieved 2013-10-23.
- "Louise Erdrich - John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation". Gf.org. Retrieved 2013-10-23.
- World Fantasy Convention (2010). "Award Winners and Nominees". Retrieved 04 Feb 2011.
- "Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas". Hanksville.org. Retrieved 2013-10-23.
- [dead link]
- "Author Louise Erdrich rejects UND honor over 'Sioux' nickname | Minnesota Public Radio News". Minnesota.publicradio.org. 2007-04-20. Retrieved 2013-10-23.
- "Dartmouth 2009 Honorary Degree Recipient Louise Erdrich '76 (Doctor of Letters)". Dartmouth.edu. 2010-06-07. Retrieved 2013-10-23.
- "Native American author Louise Erdrich '76 to give Dartmouth's 2009 Commencement address Sunday, June 14". Dartmouth.edu. 2010-06-07. Retrieved 2013-10-23.
- "Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards | The Plague of Doves". Anisfield-wolf.org. Retrieved 2013-10-23.
- "Louise Erdrich, The Round House - National Book Award Fiction Winner, The National Book Foundation". Nationalbook.org. 2012-10-24. Retrieved 2013-10-23.
- "Dartmouth Alumna Louise Erdrich ’76 Wins National Book Award | Dartmouth Now". Now.dartmouth.edu. 2012-11-15. Retrieved 2013-10-23.
- Louise Erdrich's Birchbark Blog
- Louise Erdrich at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Works by or about Louise Erdrich in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Louise Erdrich at Library of Congress Authorities — with 35 catalog records