Author Profile: Louise Erdrich
Each month, we research our authors so that you can learn more about their background and how their stories came to life.
AUTHOR OF THE BIRCHBARK HOUSE
Where she comes from & where she is now: Erdrich was born in Little Falls, Minnesota in 1954, the daughter of a Chippewa Indian mother and a German-American father. She was raised in North Dakota, where her parents taught at a school run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She currently lives in Minneapolis, MN.
Where she studied: Erdrich has a B.A. in English from Dartmouth College. She was a member of the first class of women admitted to the college. She also has a Masters in Writing from Johns Hopkins University.
You might know her from: Erdrich has been the recipient of an overwhelming number of awards, including (but not limited to) the National Book Critics Circle Awards in 1984 for Love Medicine and 2016 for LaRose. She also won the 2012 National Book Award for fiction for The Round House.
When she was not writing: Erdrich is the owner of an independent bookstore in Minneapolis called Birchbark Books. They focus on Native American literature and the Native culture of the Twin Cities.
Erdrich on writing: from an interview in ELLE with Margaret Atwood:
Atwood: Writers from groups under threat (including women) are often criticized by members of that group for not portraying their characters as models of wonderfulness. It’s seen as giving ammunition to the enemy, or betraying the group by displaying dirty laundry in public. You have not shied away from this. Have people thrown stones at you for that reason?
Erdrich: I guess I’ve guarded my skull and let the stones hit me in the back. Where I’ve got padding. On some fundamental level, I do not care. Characters are who they are. I know what you mean about writing a press release for women or for my people, but that won’t work. Our conflicts are what make us interesting, and how we surmount or succumb to them. Neither you nor I write about perfect people because, if they exist, they are perfectly boring.
There’s so much more to know: Erdrich is a poet as well. Many of her poems are available on the Poetry Foundation’s website.