Literary Birthday: Louise Erdrich

After growing up in North Dakota, where her parents taught at a Bureau of Indian Affairs school, the part-Ojibwe and part-German Louise Erdrich (born today in 1954) became one of the first women admitted to Dartmouth College. Inspired to write by her parents—her father paid her a nickel a story—wrote numerous books (novels, poetry, nonfiction) that frequently explore Native American traditions and issues, first gaining critical acclaim with her novel Love Medicine (1984).

In 1999 she published The Birchbark House, the first in a series of young adult novels set in the Ojibwe community. Two years later, Erdrich opened Birchbark Books in her home city of Minneapolis. The store offers a wide selection of native artwork and features a wooden canoe hanging from the ceiling and an old church confessional that has been refashioned into a “Forgiveness Booth.”

Reader’s Corner: Sometimes You Need that New Louise Erdrich Book

Novelist Ann Patchett wrote in The Guardian about what it’s like at the bookstore she co-operates in Nashville after closing the doors but trying to do their best keeping up with orders:

I understand now that we’re a part of our community as never before, and that our community is the world. When a friend of mine, stuck in his tiny New York apartment, told me he dreamed of being able to read the new Louise Erdrich book, I made that dream come true. I can solve nothing, I can save no one, but dammit, I can mail Patrick a copy of The Night Watchman.