Ojibwe writer Louise Erdrich has won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction for LaRose (Harper, 2015), “a haunting novel about an accidental shooting and its aftermath for two Native American families,” the organization said.
This is her second award from the Book Critics Circle; she won for her 1984 debut novel, Love Medicine, as well. The author of 15 novels and dozens of other works has also received, over the years, the National Book Award for fiction for The Roundhouse in 2012, the Library of Congress Prize in American Fiction, and the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, among other accolades.
LaRose is about the repercussions stemming from a man’s accidental shooting of his neighbors’ 5-year-old child. In keeping with traditional justice, Landreaux Iron gives up his own son to be raised by the family.
“The novel is so sure-footed and preternaturally confident,” the Book Critics Circle wrote in a review. “Both families must shuffle through the emotional morass produced by the act of child-sharing (LaRose shuttles between the two homes and the wives of the two families are also half-sisters). Shy, inquisitive LaRose is ‘a little healer.’ He is the fifth generation of LaRoses, who consults his ancestors and marshals profound bravery to right an injustice done to one of his new siblings.”
Erdrich co-owns the famed bookstore Birchbark Books in Minnesota, along with sister Heid Erdrich, also a writer, and founded the Ojibwe-language imprint Wiigwaas Press. All six Erdrich siblings are enrolled members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.
At the awards ceremony on March 15 in New York City, Erdrich and other winners spoke to the necessity of seeking truth in times like the ones we’re in, for writers and other artists particularly.
“The truth is being assaulted not only in our country but all over the world,” Erdrich said in her acceptance speech, according to The New York Times. “More than ever, we have to look into the truth.”