© The Financial Times Ltd 2014 FT and 'Financial Times' are trademarks of The Financial Times Ltd.
November 16, 2012 8:22 pm
The Round House, by Louise Erdrich, Harper, RRP$27.99, 336 pages
On a cold spring afternoon in 1988, Geraldine Coutts, an Ojibwe woman, is brutally attacked by a white man in the North Dakota countryside. Her husband, a tribal judge, tries to bring the case to court but is hindered by ambiguities over jurisdiction, and Joe, their 13-year-old son, grows impatient with the delay. Teaming up with his friends, he sets out to find and punish the assailant.
Like many American novels, from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird to David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars, The Round House examines the difficulties in disentangling truth from racial prejudice in a legal context, but Erdrich’s writing is distinctive. She narrates from Joe’s perspective, and deftly evokes his growing awareness of his mother’s distress; that “some warm part of her was gone and might not return”.
Despite its harrowing premise, the book has moments of humour, and Erdrich gives us a sense of the glorious richness of Native American culture as it endures in the face of hatred.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2014. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.