cover image Future Home of the Living God

Future Home of the Living God

Louise Erdrich. Harper, $28.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-269405-8

Set in Minnesota in a dystopian future in which evolution is going haywire, much of this startling new work of speculative fiction by Erdrich (LaRose) takes the form of a diary by pregnant Cedar Hawk Songmaker addressed to her unborn child. Happily raised and well-educated by her adopted parents Sera and Glen Songmaker, Cedar decides nevertheless to visit her Ojibwe birth family on the rez up north. But times are strange: “our world is running backward. Or forward. Or maybe sideways.” Flora and fauna are taking on prehistoric characteristics, and there is talk of viruses. It isn’t long before pregnant women are being rounded up. Cedar meets up again with her baby’s father, Phil, and for a while she hides with him. But eventually she is caught by the authorities, who reveal nothing about what is happening. A hospital incarceration, escape, violence, and murder ensue as Cedar and other pregnant women she meets along the way—helped by the valiant Sera, Cedar’s adoptive mother—will do anything to protect themselves and their babies. Erdrich’s characters are brave and conscientious, but none of them really come across as people; they act mostly as vehicles for Erdrich’s ideas. Those ideas, however—reproductive freedom, for one, and faith in and respect for the natural world—are strikingly relevant. Erdrich has written a cautionary tale for this very moment in time. (Nov.)