The Night Watchman

The Night Watchman

eBook - 2020
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New York Times Bestseller

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.


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m
maipenrai
Oct 12, 2020

I fell in love with the writing of Louise Erdrich 36 years ago when I read "Love Medicine" which still makes my list of 25 top novels ever. She writes about Native Americans with a voice that can probably be found only among Native peoples. I was unaware, but not surprised by the "emancipation" bill of 1953 which would have basically abolished tribal identities and entities. What they were being emancipated from in the minds of the legislators is clear - valuable property. Today the fight still goes on with the pipeline and other issues. Since Minnesota was the site of the largest mass execution by hanging in the history of the United States and is now the place where a black man is murdered by a policeman in front of our eyes, we need to remember that the lives of indigenous people also matter.. Following what is called the Dakota War of 1862, 302 Indians were sentenced to be executed. Through the intervention of President Lincoln the death sentences of of 264 prisoners were commuted, but he allowed the execution of 39 men. This book speaks with an indigenous voice about the continuing failures of whites to value the lives of others. I highly recommend reading the books of Louise Erdrich!!! Kristi &

c
Cooper8888
Sep 22, 2020

November Newcomers book

melwyk Sep 05, 2020

A beautifully told story of the Turtle Mountain reservation and their fight against an "emancipation bill" (ie: termination of Indigenous rights) in the 50s, in North Dakota. A timely story as another federal emancipation bill reared its head just a month or two ago; this is not a past issue.

Erdrich tells this story quietly, with a measured pace, with moments of dreaming and imagery and moments that are more active -- the characters draw you in with their vivid individuality, and the writing is as fluid as usual with Erdrich. If you're looking for a complex, thoughtful story with interlocking relationships, and a sense of place, along with a compelling storyline, give this one a try. Recommended!

m
marytatum
Sep 03, 2020

Enjoyed the coming of age of Scout

e
Estha
Jul 14, 2020

A little difficult to get into as it's a deep dive into another culture, poverty and exploitation. But beautiful language, imagery connections to the natural and spirit worlds. An important read!

f
felixoscar1040
Jul 12, 2020

The best book I’ve read so far in in 2020. So good. Fiction based on a true story. Tough, gritty, tender, loving. It’s so good.

p
peacebenow
Jul 05, 2020

I definitely didn't want this story of Patrice, her Mom, Thomas, Vera, Wood Mountain, Millie to end. Based on family history Of Erdrich, she details Native Am life at the Turtle Mtn Reservation which the Government is considering terminating. Thomas researches the Gov plan and goes to Washington to prevent the destruction of their reservation. Patrice and Thomas work at the new Jewel processing plant which brings a needed source of income to the reservation. Patrice, family and friends try to overcome poverty, alcoholism, abuse and lack of opportunities. Bit by bit through spirit, effort, determination..., pieces of their individual and community puzzle fall into place and grow.

m
maipenrai
Jun 12, 2020

I fell in love with the writing of Louise Erdrich 36 years ago when I read "Love Medicine" which still makes my list of 25 top novels ever. She writes about Native Americans with a voice that can probably be found only among Native peoples. I was unaware, but not surprised by the "emancipation" bill of 1953 which would have basically abolished tribal identities and entities. What they were being emancipated from in the minds of the legislators is clear - valuable property. Today the fight still goes on with the pipeline and other issues. Since Minnesota was the site of the largest mass execution by hanging in the history of the United States and is now the place where a black man is murdered by a policeman in front of our eyes, we need to remember that the lives of indigenous people also matter.. Following what is called the Dakota War of 1862, 302 Indians were sentenced to be executed. Through the intervention of President Lincoln the death sentences of of 264 prisoners were commuted, but he allowed the execution of 39 men. This book speaks with an indigenous voice about the continuing failures of whites to value the lives of others. I highly recommend reading the books of Louise Erdrich!!! Kristi &

c
celiawhite99
Jun 09, 2020

Interesting tale about American Indians in the 50's in N Dakota

j
Jackielr
May 20, 2020

Sierra club recommendation.

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