The Round House

The Round House

by Louise Erdrich


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The Round House won the National Book Award for fiction.

One of the most revered novelists of our time—a brilliant chronicler of Native-American life—Louise Erdrich returns to the territory of her bestselling, Pulitzer Prize finalist The Plague of Doves with The Round House, transporting readers to the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. It is an exquisitely told story of a boy on the cusp of manhood who seeks justice and understanding in the wake of a terrible crime that upends and forever transforms his family.

Riveting and suspenseful, arguably the most accessible novel to date from the creator of Love Medicine, The Beet Queen, and The Bingo Palace, Erdrich’s The Round House is a page-turning masterpiece of literary fiction—at once a powerful coming-of-age story, a mystery, and a tender, moving novel of family, history, and culture.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062065254
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/24/2013
Series: P.S.
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 17,871
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile: 790L (what's this?)

About the Author

Louise Erdrich is the author of fifteen novels as well as volumes of poetry, children’s books, short stories, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her novel The Round House won the National Book Award for Fiction. The Plague of Doves won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and her debut novel, Love Medicine, was the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. Erdrich has received the Library of Congress Prize in American Fiction, the prestigious PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. She lives in Minnesota with her daughters and is the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore.


Minneapolis, Minnesota

Date of Birth:

June 7, 1954

Place of Birth:

Little Falls, Minnesota


B.A., Dartmouth College, 1976; M.A., Johns Hopkins University, 1979

What People are Saying About This

Michiko Kakutani

“The novel showcases her [Erdrich’s] extraordinary ability to delineate the ties of love, resentment, need, duty and sympathy that bind families together…[a] powerful novel worth reading.”

Susan Salter Reynolds

“THE ROUND HOUSE is a stunning piece of architecture. It is carefully, lovingly, disarmingly constructed. Even the digressions demand strict attention.”

Ron Charles

“Emotionally compelling…Joe is an incredibly endearing narrator, full of urgency and radiant candor…the story he tells transforms a sad, isolated crime into a revelation about how maturity alters our relationship with our parents, delivering us into new kinds of love and pain.”

Karen Holt

“Erdrich threads a gripping mystery and multilayered portrait of a community through a deeply affecting coming-of-age novel.”

Donna Seaman

“A stunning and devastating tale of hate crimes and vengeance…Erdrich covers a vast spectrum of history, cruel loss, and bracing realizations. A preeminent tale in an essential American saga.”

Maria Russo

“…a powerful human story…By boring deeply into one person’s darkest episode, Erdrich hits the bedrock truth about a whole community.”

Customer Reviews

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The Round House 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 203 reviews.
RebeccaScaglione More than 1 year ago
The Round House by Louise Erdrich just won (like last week!) the National Book Award for fiction. I had this book on my to-read list for a while, but once I heard it won a large award, I had to see what the fuss was about. The Round House takes place in 1988 on an Native American reservation in North Dakota. The reservation is shaken when Joe’s mother is brutally raped. Joe and his father, a reservation judge, work to figure out who committed the crime in order to prosecute. This is a good distraction for them, since Mom has completely checked out and spends all her time in her room with the blinds closed. However, solving this crime is not as easy as it seems, because the story is a little more complicated. Joe’s only thirteen, but while he and his best friends work through their teenage trials and tribulations, they also work to find answers that they will be able to live with. The Round House was an amazing read. The story was moving, honest, and emotional. You were able to peek into Native American traditions, as well as some of their struggles with the U.S. government. This is definitely a book I recommend! Thank you to Goodreads First Reads and Harper Collins for the copy of this book! Thanks for reading, Rebecca @ Love at First Book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you haven't read her, this is both a good introduction to her and a bit bewildering. Her writing is amazing - the first sentence will grab you. But some of the references to American Indian history, law and folklore may sail over your head. Also, as before, there are characters re -appearing from earlier novels. Also, if you don't read the New Yorker, you won't necessarily realize that some of the embedded "stories" were in fact short stories previously published. All of that being said - READ IT. She is an amazing writer. She narrates stories that all Americans should know about. And then go back and start with "Love Medicine," her first and go forward. You will relish every minute!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Outstanding, muli~layered and a very good story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Intricate, enjoyable, and entertaining story, though dealing with social issues that are uncomfortably challenging. Issues are not Anglo-European nor Native American, but human issues. Not all loose ends are tied, but that is how it should be. - Doctor Blue
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm new to Louise Erdrich, so I can't compare this work with any of her others, but I enjoyed it very much. The protagonist, a 13 year old boy named Joe, is wise beyond his years, and is an unforgettable character. I love the way Erdrich writes from her Native American perspective, giving the reader greater insight and understanding of that culture, while at the same time writing a very good story that is both universal and timeless. The story is complex and disturbing in a way real life stories can be, and I appreciated the fact that the ending to this book left me asking questions instead of tying everything up neatly. I should also say that I found the writing to be exceptional, and I will definitely start reading her other books.
nfmgirl More than 1 year ago
On a reservation in North Dakota, a woman is brutally raped and beaten and nearly killed, but escapes her attacker. What follows throughout this story is a sorting-out, a coming-to-terms, and a desire for justice. The story is narrated by Joe Coutts, a courageous thirteen-year-old Ojibwe boy living on the reservation. His family is “wealthy” by reservation standards, with a nice, but modest, home and plenty to eat. His father Antone is a tribal judge, and his mother Geraldine is something of a tribal genealogist-- it’s her job to keep track of family lines and name changes and the like. Geraldine is the woman raped at the beginning of the story, and her son Joe must deal with the feelings this rouses in him, and must attempt, along with his father, to repair their fractured family. The extended family consists of Geraldine's sister Clemence, who lives nearby with their father Mooshum (Joe's grandfather), and her husband Edward. Also Geraldine and Clemence's brother Whitey lives on the reservation, and along with ex-stripper Sonja he runs a gas station on the reservation. Young Joe has the emotional support of his group of friends. Cappy Lafournais is his loyal best friend, and like a brother to him. Zack and cousin Angus round out the group (Angus lives in abject poverty on the res, and it isn't uncommon to see him sporting a black eye or bruised cheek.) This story shines a spotlight on the inability to prosecute many crimes committed against Native Americans, due to the convoluted maze of laws in regard to Natives, reservation grounds vs. non-reservation property, and who is even considered to be Native American (which has turned into a complicated formula of what percent you are this or that.) One thing I had difficulty with at times is the author's writing style. At times it is very clipped and staccato, which is always a bit of a put-off for me. And the dialogue doesn’t use quotations, which I always find a bit confusing, as it makes it difficult for me to discern dialogue from thought from narrative. But she definitely has a way with words, and at times I felt my mind say, "Oh!" at the way she expressed something. Overall I found it to be a powerful story, original and unembellished. My final word: Part mystery and part family drama, it’s a tragic story, rife with poverty, abuse, alcoholism, death. But overshadowing it all is a sense of hope, of a people who hold a fragile grasp on all of the good that life has to offer, who suck the marrow from life. There is hope in this young boy Joe.
RobinTN More than 1 year ago
I don't usually identify with stories about preteen boys, but this is story for anyone with a heart or conscience. Don't skip the Afterword. Knowing that this a story that seems to have no end, makes it that much more poignant. It is so well written that the characters will stay in your mind as if you are remembering them as real, not invented. This is a novel but will stay with you as if you lived it.
CBTS More than 1 year ago
I found this to be a fantastic novel! However, one thing to note is that there are times where things of a sexual nature are discussed. There is, of course, the rape itself. But there are also events and comments that are very sexual in nature. I found all of this to be in good taste and it didn't disrupt from the important themes that Erdrich has placed in this novel. If the reader is not bothered by sexual themes then there should be no problem with reading this. Like all of Erdrich's work, The Round House makes wonderful use of many literary components; things such as symbolism and motif are used beautifully and contribute greatly to the story. That being said, the reader is highly encouraged to keep a sharp eye on recurring themes and ideas because they truly make the story far more exciting. But of course the novel is great even if certain other literary aspects are overlooked! Another fantastic aspect of this novel is one of the things that Erdrich does best: give insight into what Native American life is like. It is a part of this country that many people overlook and this is an intriguing way to become more informed. A lot of people who have reviewed this novel have been calling it "stupid" and saying that it jumped around. But the literary components really are a huge part of this novel and I feel that perhaps these readers may have overlooked this. As for the "jumping around" comments, it adds to the effect that the novel gives. It also gets the reader to really think about what's going on and get more involved in the way the story is moving. Additionally, people have been discussing their disapproval of the lack of quotation marks. Please, do not let this put you off. I also found this extremely annoying when I began reading this novel but I got used to it once I really got into the story. You must keep in mind, the writer does everything for a reason, including leaving out her quotation marks. This, too, adds to the literary effect. It also gives the reader something to ponder; to question its significance. This novel truly is fantastic, and Louise Erdrich is a fascinating writer. The moods and concepts that she depicts are beautifully conveyed in her detailed imagery and carefully crafted words. I would definitely read this novel again, and I would of course suggest that others read it as well.
RichardSutton More than 1 year ago
Discovering a new, powerful voice, this was my first read of Ms. Erdrich's work. I was instantly struck by her ease in conveying the setting and the characters on the Ojibwe Reservation. Having spent many years with Native folks from several different Nations in our family business, her writing brought me right back into those memories with an astounding accuracy. She also has created some of the most accurate, moving portraits of teen age boys that I have ever read. Putting thoughtful, good people into the heart of impossible evil and telling the story of their journey to re-discover themselves and some sense of justice, brought this reader serious lessons, but not devoid of humor, high spirits or joy along the way. She captures the spirit that sustains Native people caught between cultural pressures and helps clarify to the rest of America, how far we still need to come to provide equal protection under the law. She has also revealed a great deal of her own heart in the process. She is a first rate storyteller not to be missed. Once I read a bit about the author, I realized that there was another spirit alive in her work. It seemed to me to be the same spirit that had a group of traditional Lakota women find the courage to occupy Wounded Knee back in the early 1970s to protest what passed for justice in Pine Ridge. Ms. Erdrich's story reminded me of the power, humor and strength in another Ojibwe from Turtle Mountain. Leonard Peltier
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very moveing glimpse into a little known part of American society.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Living in North Dakota and knowing of the Native American culture in the area, I wanted to read this book. It didn't give me the insight I thought it would into the culture but instead I found an easy book to read that kept me wanting to know how it ended. The author paints a clear picture of her characters and the book could have been longer to give the characters more depth. I first heard of the book as it was highlighted in the Whole Living Magazine and then I heard about it on NPR, a found it to be a sign that I should read it, I am glad that I did.
JRVA More than 1 year ago
Great plot...and of course her unique way of delivery.
born_again_bookworm More than 1 year ago
Good story, and it held my interest. Only complaint is that quotation marks were not used for dialogue, which could be VERY confusing at times The story is told in first-person, so if the dialogue was in first-person too, it was difficult to know whether it was another character speaking, or just the main character narrating.
PanamaJP More than 1 year ago
This novel was a fantastic read. Great writing, amazingly "real" characters, wonderful story. I couldn't put it down. I HIGHLY recommend it to everyone!!!
kyohin More than 1 year ago
I had reservations (no pun intended) about this book, but I am so glad I read it. I thought it was worth my time, and that's high praise for any book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had a hard time putting this one down. I appreciated the tidbits of history behind the characters, the native humor, difficulties of jurisdiction and tribal sovereignty. This helped fill out the story for all whether or not they have an understanding of life on a reservation. For me, the characters matched someone I knew from my childhood. The story took me through a whirlwind of emotions, from near tears to laughing out loud, and left me satisfied!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was immediately drawn into this story. Definitely worthy of the awards it has received. I have found few books as satisfying as this one. It tells a gripping story with language that is real and meangingful. There is no gimmicktry of plot device, no sense that the author is trying to make it happen. To me, it flowed very naturally and seemed to impart reality. I loved that I felt like I could believe this story, which allowed me to learn from it. I am looking forward to reading all of Louise Erdrich's work! She now ranks among my favorite authors along with Sherman Alexi, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Rudolfo Anaya, Isabelle Allende and Barbara Kingsolver.
greg5 More than 1 year ago
I was very conflicted while reading this book. The author has great literary talent. But the book was not my kind of book. I really had to plow through it; like plowing a deep snowfall. I kept at it because it was my readers' club selection. First of all there is very little character interaction. The book is mostly a narrative told by the main character. The plot is buried in a mound of Native American history and culture. The plot gets lost. I got absolutely no enjoyment from reading this book.
Anonymous 8 days ago
I read A Plague of Doves before reading this and it was good but this one was better. So many of the characters reminded me of someone I know and it brought the story to life. It's on my recommended reading list.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Ben Wisnieski More than 1 year ago
In a seemingly obvious intersection between Native American Literature and Crime Literature, violence plays a key role in The Round House. Violence, revenge, and kidnapping thrust the reader to the conclusion that violence against Native Americans, and Native American women in particular, is commonplace and often goes unresolved. Worse, many crimes go mostly uninvestigated, much less prosecuted. This gives native peoples the impression that they have no power, rights, or worth and must take matters into their own hands. Violence becomes a vicious circle or hate and a retaliation and a means to an end. The Round House provides a view into this cycle and is the driving point behind the plot and character development. Violence and death are dealt with a familiar and off hand approach in the book. All the characters have grown accustomed to it and understand how it can affect those around them. The characters that would be considered “good” use it as a means to an end with which to punish those responsible for heinous crimes when traditional means fail. Violence against Natives and Native Women in real life is all too common and justice far too rare. The Round House calls into question the validity and the red tape that makes up laws on Native American Reservations and tribal police’s ability to prosecute crime and defend their people. It provides a shocking and relatable story about a rape and how it is dealt with by family, community, and the law that appears to be all too common for Native American women of past and present. It calls for a change to tribal laws, one that would increase their tribal law power and their sovereignty on their own land. This would afford them better opportunities to protect their people and help restore the rights taken from them by the government and history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Captivating, educational, couldn’t put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked this story. I felt Like I knew the characters. The writing kept me interested.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book on so many levels...the characters are honest and relatable. The story line has everything..a mystery, a coming of age tale, and social injustice themes. This book makes you think, but more importantly, it makes you FEEL. I was invested in these characters, their lives, their flaws, and their loves. The moral issues are complex and heart wrenching. This book does what a great story you empathy and perspective for a situation that is beyond anything that most of us experience. I was transported, emotionally challenged, and made aware of social issues that I had not thought existed. Thank you to this author for sharing the lives of these characters with me and opening my eyes to a new perspective and awareness of the native people of our nation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love everything about this book.