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The Future Home of the Living God, by Louise Erdrich.

August 28, 2018

The Future Home of the Living God
The Future Home of the Living God, by Louise Erdrich. HarperCollins, 2018.

5 stars

A tantilizing speculative novel by a major Native American author about a young woman who is pregnant and writes a long letter to her unborn child as the earth begins to changes radically around them.

Louise Erdrich is a highly admired American author who has published 16 books in various genres.  Her books have won a number of prizes. She is best known for her series of books about a Native American reservation in northern Minnesota and the nearby white village.  She is part Native American, grew up in the culture, and continues to be strongly devoted to its traditions even as she writes about the give and take between her culture and the dominate, mainstream, white American culture.  Part of her genius is her ability to convey the complex and contradictory thoughts and emotions we experience regardless of racial definition.

Cedar Hawk Songmaker, the narrator of The Future Home of the Living God, is an Ojibwe, adopted and named by her white liberal parents.  Her birth name was Mary Pots, the same as her birth mother with whom she is reunited during the course of the book.  When Cedar is four months pregnant, she begins a letter to her unborn child, updating her account of what she doing, and the strange events happening around and to her.  At first the changes appear in the failure of some plants to breed true, but then reproduction everywhere is disrupted. As the physical basis of life shifts, political chaos and then tyranny emerges sending Cedar searching for a place she can give birth in peace and security.  In the surprising ending, she finds life can go on.

Erdrich always writes well and her new book is no exception.  What is different is her choice to write speculative fiction.   In addition, Erdrich allows herself to make gentle humor of the various characters she has created.  The book manages to be filled with potential danger and deeply felt hope.

I strongly recommend it to all readers interested in big issues and curious about what Erdrich

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