Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

LaRose by Louise Erdrich review – formidable Ojibwe storytelling


Louise Erdrich’s 15th novel is one of rare beauty. The action unfolds on the same (fictional) North Dakota Native American reservation where she’s set previous works – including her National Book award-winning The Round House – a place where the present is steeped in a rich but troublesome past. It’s also where tribal customs and connections still hold sway, so when Landreaux Iron accidentally kills his neighbour’s son, he and his wife offer up their own, five-year-old LaRose, in the dead boy’s place: “an old form of justice”. It’s an astonishing story – the roots of which Erdrich found in the Ojibwe culture she herself hails from – told by a storyteller both formidable and tender, her talent for description second to none: pained men “stacking heartache” as they chop wood; or poor LaRose, attempting to fit in to his new family, “It was like his mouth had a little strainer that only let through pleasant words.”


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