The Painted Drum: A Novel (Paperback)

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The Painted Drum: A Novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews


I encountered a passage from this book recently that was so profoundly exquisite, I knew I had to read the novel. The passage: "Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the applies falling all around you in heaps, waisting their sweetness. Tell Yourself that you tasted as many as you could." If that speaks to you, I think you will treasure this novel. The plot consists of stories from both the maker of the titular Ojibwe drum and the people whose lives have been affected by it over the span of several generations. These tales capture the harsh reality of daily existence for Indians, and most focus on mothers who have failed their children in some significant way. I'm not a religious person, but I am captivated by the spirituality of native Americans, their deep connection to nature, their respect for the dead, and their belief in the pull that the dead have on the people they leave behind. Since reading this book twice, I've had many dreams about and one-sided conversations with long-dead loved ones. I've never had such a visceral reaction to a novel, and I believe that these dreams and conversations are a way for me to make peace with mistakes others have made that impacted me and with my own mistakes that hurt those I love. 

— From Jeanne's Picks

“Haunted and haunting. . . . With fearlessness and humility, in a narrative that flows more artfully than ever between destruction and rebirth, Erdrich has opened herself to possibilities beyond what we merely see—to the dead alive and busy, to the breath of trees and the souls of wolves—and inspires readers to open their hearts to these mysteries as well.”— Washington Post Book World

From the author of the National Book Award Winner The Round House, Louise Erdrich's breathtaking, lyrical novel of a priceless Ojibwe artifact and the effect it has had on those who have come into contact with it over the years.

While appraising the estate of a New Hampshire family descended from a North Dakota Indian agent, Faye Travers is startled to discover a rare moose skin and cedar drum fashioned long ago by an Ojibwe artisan. And so begins an illuminating journey both backward and forward in time, following the strange passage of a powerful yet delicate instrument, and revealing the extraordinary lives it has touched and defined.

Compelling and unforgettable, Louise Erdrich's Painted Drum explores the often-fraught relationship between mothers and daughters, the strength of family, and the intricate rhythms of grief with all the grace, wit, and startling beauty that characterizes this acclaimed author's finest work.

Louise Erdrich, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, is the author of many novels as well as volumes of poetry, children’s books, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her novel The Round House won the National Book Award for Fiction. Love Medicine and LaRose received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. Erdrich lives in Minnesota with her daughters and is the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore. Her most recent book, The Night Watchman, won the Pulitzer Prize. A ghost lives in her creaky old house.

Product Details ISBN: 9780060515119
ISBN-10: 0060515112
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: January 22nd, 2019
Pages: 304
Language: English
Series: P.S.

“A lovely addition . . . to a growing landscape as memorable and enduring as William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County. — Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Complex and graceful . . . Her most recent work shows Erdrich only becoming better with time.” — Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Erdrich soars in scenes that are resonant, poetic and exact, visions that will remain imprinted on the reader’s mind.” — Los Angeles Times Book Review

“A brilliant creation: it possesses the instantly persuasive strangeness of something faithful to life.” — New York Times Book Review

“This is simply a good book... Neatly etched characters, finely calibrated prose, and flashes of wisdom and wit throughout.” — Christian Science Monitor

“One of her best novels... Erdrich’s writing has become richer, her voice wiser... She shies away from nothing.” — Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Haunted and haunting... With fearlessness and humility... [Erdrich] inspires readers to open their hearts.” — Washington Post Book World

“This is her best book yet.” — Providence Journal

“Erdrich at her most accomplished. . . . Startling imagery and remarkable insights into love, foolishness, bravery and betrayal.” — Philadelphia Inquirer

“A top-notch read and one of her finest efforts.” — Denver Post