Louise Erdrich on Native American Authors

Native American Authors

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Louise Erdrich, 1954-


Louise Erdrich, daughter of a German-American father and half-Ojibwa mother, is an award-winning American novelist and short story writer whose work encompasses both adult and children’s literature. She was born in 1954, in Little Falls, Minnesota and grew up in Wahpeton, North Dakota where her parents worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She received an M.A. degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1979. She is considered an important figure in the Native American literary Renaissance.

Erdrich touches upon Native American themes and symbolism primarily through the lives of Ojibwa Indians in the northern Midwest and other characters who represent both sides of her heritage.

Erdrich revisits the lands of North Dakota in her writings, lands where her German and Indian ancestors encountered each other, enabling the Ojibwa Indian experience to find its rightful place in the Anglo-American literary tradition. With an eye that is at once candid and compassionate, Erdrich delves into the cultural issues faced by modern Native Americans and people of mixed heritage. Critics have noted that she goes beyond merely portraying Native Americans as descendants of a politically suppressed group and seeks to address universal questions – finding an identity in a world changed beyond recognition, the randomness of life, and seeking the meaning of life.

Awards and Honors

1975 American Academy of Poets Prize
1980 MacDowell Fellowship
1983 Pushcart Prize in Poetry
1984 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction
1984 Sue Kaufman Prize for Best First Novel, for Love Medicine
1984 Virginia McCormick Scully Literary Award, for Love Medicine
1985 Los Angeles Times book Prize Joy Harjo
1985 Guggenheim Fellowship in Creative Arts
1987 O. Henry Award, for Fleur (short story published in Esquire, August 1986)
1999 World Fantasy Award, for The Antelope Wife
Wordcraft Circle Writer of the Year (Prose – Children’s Literature) award, 2000 for The Birchbark House
2000 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas
2005 Associate Poet Laureate of North Dakota
2006 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, for The Game of Silence
2007 Honorary Doctorate from the University of North Dakota (refused by author)
2009 Honorary Doctorate (Doctor of Letters) from Dartmouth College
2009 Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement
2009 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, for Plague of Doves
2012 National Book Award for Fiction, for The Round House
2013 Rough Rider Award
2013 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, for Chickadee
2014 Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award
2014 PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction
2015 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction
2016 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, for LaRose

(Photo courtesy of Facts on File, American Historical Images on File: The Native American Experience)

Online resources by or about Louise Erdrich:

An Emissary of the Between-World
Author: Katie Bacon
Type: etext
Description: An interview with Erdrich from the 1/17/01 issue of Atlantic Unbound.

URL: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2001/01/an-emissary-of-the-between-world/303033/

IPL Online Literary Criticism: Louise Erdrich
Author: Internet Public Library
Type: authorbio
Description: Collection of links to biographical and critical sites about Erdrich and her works.

URL: https://www.ipl.org/div/litcrit/bin/litcrit.out.pl?au=erd-189

Louise Erdrich
Author: Amy Leigh McNally and Piyali Nath Dalal
Type: authorbio
Description: This page is part of a series from Voices from the Gaps: Women Writers of Color produced by the Department of English and Programs in American Studies at the University of Minnesota. Included is an in-depth biography, selected bibliography, and related links.

URL: https://conservancy.umn.edu/handle/11299/166164

The Salon Interview: Louise Erdrich
Type: authorbio
Description: An interview with Louise Erdrich about her writing and motherhood.

URL: https://www.salon.com/1996/05/06/interview_16/

Books by Louise Erdrich:

Erdrich, Louise. The Antelope Wife
New York, NY : HarperFlamingo, 1998.
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Adult
ISBN: 0060187263

Erdrich, Louise. Baptism of desire : poems
New York : Harper & Row, 1989.
Genre: Poetry
Audience: Adult
ISBN: 0060162139

Erdrich, Louise. The beet queen
New York : Holt, 1986.
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Adult
ISBN: 08050005850030706122

Erdrich, Louise. The bingo palace
New York : Harper Collins Publishers, 1994.
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Adult
ISBN: 0060170808

Erdrich, Louise. The Birchbark House
New York : Hyperion Books for Children, 1999.
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Youth
ISBN: 0786803002

Erdrich, Louise. The blue jay’s dance : a birth year
New York : Harper Collins Publishers, 1995.
Genre: Autobiography
Audience: Adult
ISBN: 0060171324

Dorris, Michael; Erdrich, Louise. Conversations with Louise Erdrich and Michael Dorris
Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, 1994.
Genre: Nonfiction
Audience: Adult
ISBN: 08780565130878056521 (pbk.)

Dorris, Michael; Erdrich, Louise. The crown of columbus
New York, N.Y. : Harper Collins, 1991.
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Adult
ISBN: 0060160799

Erdrich, Louise. Grandmother’s pigeon
New York : Hyperion Books for Children, 1996.
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Youth
ISBN: 0786801654

Erdrich, Louise. Jacklight
New York : Henry Holt, 1984.
Genre: Poetry
Audience: Adult
ISBN: 0805010475 (pbk.)

Erdrich, Louise. The last report on the miracles at Little No Horse
New York, NY : Harper Collins, 2001.
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Adult
ISBN: 0060187271

Erdrich, Louise. Love medicine
New York : Harper Perennial, 1993.
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Adult
ISBN: 0553344234 (hc.)0060975547 (pbk.)

Erdrich, Louise; Dorris, Michael. Route 2 (U.S. Highway 2: Description and Travel)
Lord John Press, 1990.
Genre: Nonfiction
Audience: All Ages
ISBN: ISBN-13: 978-0935716542

Erdrich, Louise. Tales of burning love
New York : Harper Collins, 1996.
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Adult
ISBN: 9780060176051 / 0060176059

Erdrich, Louise. Tracks
New York : Henry Holt, 1988.
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Adult
ISBN: 0805008950

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