Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme that was started by @Lauren’s Page Turners. This meme is quite easy to follow – just randomly pick a book from your to-be-read list and give the reasons why you want to read it. It is that simple.
This week’s book:
The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich
Blurb from Goodreads
Based on the extraordinary life of National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich’s grandfather who worked as a night watchman and carried the fight against Native dispossession from rural North Dakota all the way to Washington, D.C., this powerful novel explores themes of love and death with lightness and gravity and unfolds with the elegant prose, sly humor, and depth of feeling of a master craftsman.
Thomas Wazhashk is the night watchman at the jewel bearing plant, the first factory located near the Turtle Mountain Reservation in rural North Dakota. He is also a Chippewa Council member who is trying to understand the consequences of a new “emancipation” bill on its way to the floor of the United States Congress. It is 1953 and he and the other council members know the bill isn’t about freedom; Congress is fed up with Indians. The bill is a “termination” that threatens the rights of Native Americans to their land and their very identity. How can the government abandon treaties made in good faith with Native Americans “for as long as the grasses shall grow, and the rivers run”?
Since graduating high school, Pixie Paranteau has insisted that everyone call her Patrice. Unlike most of the girls on the reservation, Patrice, the class valedictorian, has no desire to wear herself down with a husband and kids. She makes jewel bearings at the plant, a job that barely pays her enough to support her mother and brother. Patrice’s shameful alcoholic father returns home sporadically to terrorize his wife and children and bully her for money. But Patrice needs every penny to follow her beloved older sister, Vera, who moved to the big city of Minneapolis. Vera may have disappeared; she hasn’t been in touch in months, and is rumored to have had a baby. Determined to find Vera and her child, Patrice makes a fateful trip to Minnesota that introduces her to unexpected forms of exploitation and violence, and endangers her life.
Thomas and Patrice live in this impoverished reservation community along with young Chippewa boxer Wood Mountain and his mother Juggie Blue, her niece and Patrice’s best friend Valentine, and Stack Barnes, the white high school math teacher and boxing coach who is hopelessly in love with Patrice.
In the Night Watchman, Louise Erdrich creates a fictional world populated with memorable characters who are forced to grapple with the worst and best impulses of human nature. Illuminating the loves and lives, the desires and ambitions of these characters with compassion, wit, and intelligence, The Night Watchman is a majestic work of fiction from this revered cultural treasure.
Why I Want To Read It
Just like last week’s author, Icelander Halldór Laxness, Louise Erdrich is a name that is foreign to me although I recall purchasing one of her books from a fellow book reader. Unfortunately, I never got around to reading that book. Nearly three years after I bought it, it is still stuck in my bookshelf along with many unread books. HAHA!
I wasn’t really planning on buying a copy of Erdrich’s latest work, The Night Watchman. I actually came across the book in my local bookstore but I didn’t pay it any mind. My interest in the book was piqued when I read USA Today’s list of Best books of 2020 so far: What USA TODAY’s critics loved reading. One of the 30 books in the list is this new novel from the National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich. Immediately, I purchased a copy of the book online (thankfully my local bookstore has it in store). The book also got delivered last week.
Over at Goodreads, the book has quite a very solid rating, which is I guess a plus to its case. But reading more about Louise Erdrich and her diverse background made me more interested in reading The Night Watchman . The novel was actually inspired by her grandfather’s story. It looks like a complex but compelling story, a dive into a different world. It seems to carry with it a rich historical context, making it all the more interesting for me; I have been immersing in historical fiction these past few years and I have been relishing the experience.
I will be reading The Night Watchman after I finish Ilana Masad’s debut novel, All My Mother’s Lovers. I ordered both books at the same time, along with David Mitchell’s latest novel, Utopian Avenue (although it hasn’t arrived yet). These two books are also part of the said USA Today list. Personally, this is an internal shift for it is unusual that I read this many “new books” in a year. I have read six “new books” so far this year and The Night Watchman will be the seventh. And the year hasn’t even ended yet.
Thus ends my Goodreads Monday post. How about you fellow reader, what book do you want to read? I hope you can share it in the comment box. For now, happy reading! Have a great week ahead!