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The Novels of Louise Erdrich


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The Author: Connie A. Jacobs has specialized in Native American literature based on her doctoral studies at Northern Illinois Universitiy. She is on the board of the National Association of Ethnic Studies and is co-editor along with Greg Sarris and James Giles of Approaches to Teaching the Novels and Poetry of Louise Erdrich. Dr. Jacobs is an Assistant Professor of English at San Juan College in Farmington, New Mexico.


This is not only the most comprehensive survey of Louise Erdrich's fiction to date, it is also the most carefully researched. Connie A. Jacobs has provided us with the kind of historical and cultural background not usually found in critical studies of Native American writers. Therefore, her contribution to the field is most valuable, particularly to readers desiring an overview of Erdrich's fiction, as well as an introduction to Erdrich's Anishinnaabe cultural perspective. Exploring the mythic and cultural landscapes of Erdrich's novels, Jacobs provides important links between Erdrich's fictional and mythic narratives, underscoring Erdrich's role as a tribal storyteller committed to the cultural survival of her nation. (Debra K. S. Barker, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire) The past three decades have seen an extraordinary increase in texts by Native American authors, along with a parallel effluence of literary criticism devoted to these works. Even so, to date only a handful of full-length studies of single authors have been published. This study of Louise Erdrich's novels is a particularly timely and welcome addition to the field since Erdrich is one of the three or four Native American writers most often taught in U.S. colleges and universities, not only in courses devoted to Native American literatures, but also in a wide variety of other English, women's studies, and American studies courses. In chapters relating Erdrich's six novels to recent theories of oral tradition and autobiography, to the roles of major figures in Chippewa myth, and to the protean parameters of concepts such as family and community, Jacobs usefully locates Erdrich's novels in the context of important, too-little-known historical and sociological motifs informing Turtle Mountain Ojibwa cultural identity while at the same time acknowledging the singularity of Erdrich's creative voice and vision. (Robert M. Nelson, University of Richmond)

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