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"The Sentence": Louise Erdrich's haunted tale of a momentous year

Erdrich_Louise__crop_credit Jenn Ackerman .png
Louise Erdrich is the award-winning author of 18 novels, as well as short stories, poems and non-fiction. Her previous novel, "The Night Watchman," won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. (Photo by Jenn Ackerman)

(This conversation was originally aired on November 12, 2021)

Welcome to this archive edition of Midday.

Tom Hall's guest today is the acclaimed author, Louise Erdrich. She is one of the most gifted and compelling writers in American literature today. Readers all over the world are irresistibly drawn to her bevy of complex and endearing characters who navigate the world in fascinating and unexpected ways, and whose stories are told with grace, compassion and persuasive authority.

Erdrich is the author of 18 novels to date, a collection of short stories, three collections of poetry, more than a half-dozen children's books, and two works of non-fiction. She has won the National Book Critics Circle Award three times; she has also won a National Book Award.

The Sentence, by Louise Erdrich
Harper Collins
Published by Harper Collins Publishers

In April of 2020, Tom spoke with Louise Erdrich on this program about her novel, The Night Watchman. This year, the novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. That wonderful novel drew its inspiration from the true story of her grandfather, a leader of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians in the 1950s.

Her new novel, published in November, takes place in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 2019 and 2020. It also explores Indigenous identity and the complexities of the relationship between native and white cultures. Most of the characters in this book are employees or customers at a store inspired by Birchbark Books, a bookstore Louise Erdrich owns. The novel even includes a character who is an author named Louise. 

It’s called The Sentence.

Louise Erdrich joined us on Zoom from Minneapolis

(Our conversation was pre-recorded, so we’re not taking any new calls or on-line comments today.)

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