The Sentence by Louise Erdrich - 2021 - 387 Pages - A Novel
Buried in Print on Louise Erdrich
Birchbark Books- owned by Louise Erdrich.
Best Bio of Author I could find. On The Poetry Foundation
Back in July of 2014 I read “Nero” by Louise Erdrich. It won the O. Henry Award for best short story that year. Seven years it took me to read another of her works, The Night Watchman, the 2021 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction.
The Night Watchman is based on the author’s grandfather who worked as a night watchman while working to prevent Native Americans Chippewas from being dispossed from land they long lived on. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, a Federal agency, was in charge of whether or not a linked group of Native Americans should be designated a tribe. Losing that designation meant loss of reservations rights and government help.
As The Sentence begins, Tookie has just been sentenced to sixty years in prison for stealing a truck to take the body of the ex-lover of a close friend from the apartment where he died. Unbenownst to Tookie, there were drugs hidden on the body. Tookie, a Native American, knows that Native Americans often receive very harsh sentences.
While in prison books are her refuge, her salvation. Thanks to the tireless work of her Defense attorney gets her released after only a few years. The time then is 2015, the place is Minneapolis, Minnesota. Tookie finds a job in a Bookstore with a focus on Native Americans. She loves her job and Marries a tribal policeman. It turns out the store is haunted by Flora a deceased customer, visting daily just as she did when alive. Flora was a White woman who was obsessed with her imaginary Native American heritage.
There are lots of wonderful references to books sold, to those read by Tookie, other employees and customers.
The Covid Pandemic begins, George Floyd is killed by the Police. Tootie and her husband are sucked in a vortex of danger, fear of the unknown. There are no vaccines yet, no one understands the virus, how to be safe.
There are lots of interesting characters. There is even a list of works mentioned.
I greatly enjoyed The Sentence. As my Understanding The significance of the title imcressed I think, I saw a bit deeper into this marvelous book.
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