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The Plague of Doves Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 29, 2008
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A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, The Plague of Doves—the first part of a loose trilogy that includes the National Book Award-winning The Round House and LaRose—is a gripping novel about a long-unsolved crime in a small North Dakota town and how, years later, the consequences are still being felt by the community and a nearby Native American reservation.
Though generations have passed, the town of Pluto continues to be haunted by the murder of a farm family. Evelina Harp—part Ojibwe, part white—is an ambitious young girl whose grandfather, a repository of family and tribal history, harbors knowledge of the violent past. And Judge Antone Bazil Coutts, who bears witness, understands the weight of historical injustice better than anyone. Through the distinct and winning voices of three unforgettable narrators, the collective stories of two interwoven communities ultimately come together to reveal a final wrenching truth.
Bestselling author Louise Erdrich delves into the fraught waters of historical injustice and the impact of secrets kept too long.
From Publishers Weekly
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- ASIN : 0060515120
- Publisher : HarperCollins (April 29, 2008)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780060515126
- ISBN-13 : 978-0060515126
- Lexile measure : 960L
- Item Weight : 1.25 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.12 x 1.05 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #785,068 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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Multiple narrators, on and off the reservation
The Plague of Doves is set in North Dakota, in the small town of Pluto and the nearby Chippewa reservation. Erdrich tells her story through the perspective of four narrators, with additional stories nested into their tales as elders recount the tragic history of the region. The story overflows with characters, and it takes awhile to understand how closely they’re all connected. The suspense builds, the pieces fall into place, and the the full picture eventually emerges in startling clarity. The Plague of Doves is a brilliant example of a story in the hands of a writer at the peak of her art. It’s at once a snapshot of Native American history, a coming-of-age story, and a novel of suspense.
As the title suggests, a time when passenger pigeons darkened the skies of the American West figures in this tale. Their “numbers were such that nobody thought they could possibly ever be wiped from the earth.” But they were, just as surely as the herds of thundering buffalo were reduced to a handful of survivors — and the Native American population itself was nearly exterminated.
No stereotypes on this reservation
A young woman named Evelina Harp, one-quarter Chippewa like the author, is the first of the book’s four narrators. Here’s how she thinks of herself: “I didn’t really fit in with anybody. We were middle-class BIA Indians, and I wanted to go to Paris.” And here’s how she describes her family: “We are a tribe of office workers, bank tellers, book readers, and bureaucrats. The wildest of us . . . is a short-order cook, and the most heroic of us (my father) teaches.” In other words, you won’t find any stereotypes on this Indian reservation. Yes, alcohol has taken its toll on some of the characters, and others have acted out their response to the genocide in their heritage, but every one of their stories is unique. In the words of one tribal elder when speaking about a young man who had turned to drugs and crime, “He was a bad thing waiting for a worse thing to happen. A mistake, but one that we kept trying to salvage because he was so young.” Erdrich’s characters are as real as they can be.
About the author
Louise Erdrich is a National Book Award-winning novelist of mixed Native American, German, and French heritage. She is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, which her maternal grandfather served as tribal chairman. Both her parents were schoolteachers. LaRose is her fifteenth adult novel.
Some sections, particularly the opening chapters, and those about the relationship between an evangelical religious sect leader and his wife, feature the intense, emotional scenes that Erdrich writes about so vividly. Other parts - like the closing chapters - seem more about trying to tie things together.
I will certainly read more by Erdrich, for when she is in full flight the pages are alive with energy.