- File Size: 3461 KB
- Print Length: 464 pages
- Publisher: Harper (March 3, 2020)
- Publication Date: March 3, 2020
- Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07SKWFVYW
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,587 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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"With The Night Watchman, Louise Erdrich rediscovers her genius…This tapestry of stories is a signature of Erdrich’s literary craft, but she does it so beautifully that it’s tempting to forget how remarkable it is…This narrator’s vision is more capacious, reaching out across a whole community in tender conversation with itself. Expecting to follow the linear trajectory of a mystery, we discover in Erdrich’s fiction something more organic, more humane. Like her characters, we find ourselves “laughing in that desperate high-pitched way people laugh when their hearts are broken.” (Ron Charles, Washington Post)
"Louise Erdrich's The Night Watchman is a singular achievement even for this accomplished writer. . . Erdrich, like her grandfather, is a defender and raconteur of the lives of her people. Her intimate knowledge of the Native American world in collision with the white world has allowed her, over more than a dozen books, to create a brilliantly realized alternate history as rich as Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi.” (O, The Oprah Magazine)
“In powerfully spare and elegant prose, Erdrich depicts deeply relatable characters who may be poor but are richly connected to family, community and the Earth.” (Patty Rhule, USA Today)
“Erdrich’s newest novel thrills with luminous empathy.” (Boston Globe)
“No one can break your heart and fill it with light all in the same book — sometimes in the same paragraph — quite like Louise Erdrich…She does it again, and beautifully, in her new book…gorgeously written, deeply humane…Erdrich’s writing about the bonds of marriage and family is one of the greatest strengths of her fiction. She captures all the affection, teasing, pain and forgiveness it takes to hold a family together.” (Tampa Bay Times)
“What is most beautiful about the book is how this family feeling manifests itself in the way the people of The Night Watchman see the world, their fierce attachment to each other, however close or distant, living or dead.” (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
“Louise Erdrich is one of our era’s most powerful literary voices…In The Night Watchman Erdrich’s blend of spirituality, gallows humor, and political resistance is at play…It may be set in the 1950s, but the history it unearths and its themes of taking a stand against injustice are every bit as timely today.” (Christian Science Monitor)
"Erdrich’s inspired portrait of her own tribe’s resilient heritage masterfully encompasses an array of characters and historical events. Erdrich remains an essential voice.” (Publishers Weekly)
“National Book Award winner Erdrich once again calls upon her considerable storytelling skills to elucidate the struggles of generations of Native people to retain their cultural identity and their connection to the land.” (Library Journal, Starred Review)
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Instead it mostly focuses on the struggles of a young Native American woman. Can she find her lost sister, what is her romantic future, what to do with her deadbeat father, etc.
Through these interwoven narratives, Erorich breathes life into an Indian reservation in the post war era. It’s not an idealized image: poverty, violence and alcoholism do run rife throughout the text.
But it is a proud community conscious of a tradition and culture that long predates the European settlement.
And this is where the text is most impressive. In terse and uncomplicated prose, the story unfolds as if the imagined universe of the tribe is real. Just as Christian literature may cast angels and demons as characters, The Night Watchman makes the spirits, mythologies and shamanism not just literary ornaments but key drivers of the story. Look, for example, to the characters’ participation in the tribe’s creation myth, the presence of benign and malignant ghosts and the way shamanism is able to reveal key plot elements.
Given the extent to which cultural genocide has been perpetrated against Indian heritage, this is a much needed act of preservation. In some ways, The Night Watchman continues the effort of the characters to preserve their reservations; the book becomes a means by which Indian culture can be preserved and transmitted.
In short, crisp prose combined with a deep grounding of the book in a tribe’s collective imagination makes for a book worth reading.
In the early part of this tale, readers will come upon a seemingly innocuous mention of Thomas Wazhashk’s family quilt. Immediately thereafter, the wonder of many lifetimes flows out as one of the most inspiringly beautiful passages I have ever read in my 69 years on this planet. Then, of course, just as when I read The Round House many years ago, Louise Erdrich follows with so many equally powerful passages that remind us why her books linger in the heart and mind for so long.
One of the main characters, Thomas, who is the night watchman at a jewel bearing factory is based on the author’s grandfather. He is a loving, tireless man who cares deeply about the Chippewa Turtle Mountain people and his own family.
There are several stories going on in this novel but they are all part of the whole. We will watch as Thomas writes hundreds of letters to those in the government who might listen to his plea that the tribe be allowed to keep the little bit of land that they have. This once powerful tribe of hunters and gatherers was forced onto a small plot of land and had to learn how to farm in order to exist. They were given very little help from the government but even this was in danger of being taken away. They must form a committee and address Congress directly.
At the same time we learn about Thomas’s family, he deeply loves his wife Rose who works tirelessly to keep their family together, fed and clothed. His oldest daughter Vera left for the city, and hasn’t been heard from in a while. Patrice, his other daughter works at the jewel bearing plant where Thomas is a watchman. Her job is working on a type of production line, cutting precise holes into small jewel panels.
When Vera has been missing for a while Patrice saves up her money and goes to the city to find her. What happens to her there is eye opening as well as discouraging. We come back to that story later in the novel.
Thomas’s father, Bibon, lives with them, he is quite old but is filled with wisdom and inner strength. He will help Thomas in his quest to speak in front of Congress on behalf of his tribe.
“Make the Washington D.C.’s understand. We just started getting on our feet. Getting so we have some coins to jingle. Making farms. Becoming famous in school like you. All that will suffer. It will be wiped out.. . ..They sent us their tuberculosis. It is taking us down. We don’t have money to go to their hospitals. It was their promise to exchange these things for our land. “Long as the grass grows and the rivers flow.”
Scattered throughout the book there are references to Indian folklore and some magical passages which are beautiful and thought provoking.
The older generation has struggled with efforts to completely change their way of life. The younger generation still looks up to the elders but also wants what they see on TV and magazines, cute clothes, nice homes, cell phones, and to live in the city. They are often pulled in two different directions.
I don’t want to give away any more of this amazing story. Hopefully I have given you enough enticement to read this book. It is definitely one of my top books this year and is not to be missed. Ms. Erdrich will reward you with a great story, wonderful characters and a history of some of the terrible things that we have done to the American Indians. We virtually broke every treaty that we made with the Indians.
I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through Edelweiss
Second, this story brought forth laughter, tears, gasps of horror,and also appreciation for the hope that was evident in the characters.
I recommend this book to everyone. I know I have been changed for the good.
Top international reviews
It shows life among the Chippewa Native Americans in 1953 when a senator is attempting to break the conditions of the treaty apportioning their reservation to the Chippewa. There are great characters here, some based on relatives of the author. There's lots of the lore and superstitions used by the tribe as they gradually acquire education. This is a well-plotted and well-written novel. Without being in any way maudlin, this saga arouses great sympathy for these utterly disadvantaged people.