Louise Erdrich Wins National Book Award for The Round House

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Author Louise Erdrich at her store, BirchBark Books, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Dawn Villella, file)

Last week, Louise Erdrich won the 2012 National Book Award for fiction. Her book, The Round House, follows a boy living on a Native American reservation in North Dakota as he investigates an attack on his mother. The Round House is Erdrich’s fourteenth novel, and it was selected for the award from a competitive group of finalists, including literary heavyweights Junot Díaz and Dave Eggers and two first-time novelists, Kevin Powers and Ben Fountain. Erdrich accepted the award in part in her native language; The New York Times writes:

She said she wanted to acknowledge “the grace and endurance of native women.” She added: “This is a book about a huge case of injustice ongoing on reservations. Thank you for giving it a wider audience.”

Erdrich was raised in Wahpeton, North Dakota, on the North Dakota-Minnesota state line. Her Ojibwa-French mother and German-American father both taught at the Bureau of Indian Affairs School. Erdrich did not leave the Red River Valley region until she entered Dartmouth College as part of the first class of women admitted there in 1972. Bill Moyers interviewed Erdrich in 2010 about how her Native American heritage influences her work.

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