Erdrich's literary reputation, already formidable after Love Medicine and The Beet Queen , will be enhanced with this beautifully fashioned, powerful novel. Some of the characters in the previous books are here, but with a new dimension that renders this story the most riveting of the three, again set in North Dakota in the early 1900s. The narrative voice alternates between Nanapush, a wise old man of the Chippewa tribe, and Pauline, who abandons her Indian heritage in an obsessive conversion to Christianity. Both tell the story of Fleur Pillager, a magnificent woman who is rumored to be a witch, and whose life mirrors both the conflicts within the Indian community banded together in the face of an encroachingy white world, and the eventual supremacy of that world over their culture. Rescued by Nanapush after her family dies in an epidemic, and already rumored to have infuence over men's lives, Fleur ironically is the victim of gang rape when she leaves the reservation to work in the nearby town of Argus. Nanapush gives his name to Fleur's daughter Lulu, counsels Eli who loves and woos Fleur, and watches the betrayal of her pride and power. Pauline, who becomes a nun dedicated to martyrdom, has a role in hastening Fleur's destruction. Erdrich's writing is as poetic and strikingly imaged as before, and even more crystalline. She seamlessly interweaves scenes of everyday Indian life and the magical and supernatural world of their legends and beliefs. While the native American culture may be exotic to our understanding, the characters are universally human in their emotions. This is a stunning story about people caught in the grip of passion and in the inexorable flow of history. 100,000 copy first printing; $200,000 ad/promo; BOMC and QPBC selections. (September)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1988 Release date: 09/01/1988 Genre: Fiction
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