Top Picks: Louise Erdrich’s 70th Birthday

The late Carlos Ruiz Zafon once said, "Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you." One such author whose vibrant and dynamic works embody this sentiment is Louise Erdrich.  Since 1984, Erdrich has established herself as one of the most prominent and decorated authors in literature thanks to her thought-provoking, intricately written books. In celebration of her 70th birthday on June 7, let's look at this Pulitzer Prize-winning author's best works. 

No matter where we come from, we're all connected. This is one of many messages in Erdrich's debut novel Love Medicine. Captivating and highly impressive, Erdrich's debut novel is the beginning of the Love tetralogy that tells the story of four families living in the ancient and cultured Objibwe reservation. Told in a nonlinear format, the novel includes the perspective of its characters, each with a story to tell.

Friendships can be powerful, beautiful, and long-lasting. No one knows this better than Mary and Celestine, two best friends who reflect on their lives in The Beet Queen. Orphaned as a child, Mary finds herself on a journey of heartbreak and self-discovery with Mary at her side. In the second entry in the Love series, Erdrich dazzles readers by exploring the tenacity of friendship, internal loneliness, and the human condition.

Given the aforementioned novels centered around family and friendship, Erdrich's third novel Tracks explores the meaning of community. Unlike its predecessors, Tracks alternates between two narrators, Nanapush and Pauline, two Native-American women who discuss the struggles of their small tribal community and maintaining their cultural identity in an ever-changing society. 

Life is beautiful when seen through the eyes of a child in the realistic fiction classic The Birchbark House, told by Omakayas, a gifted and precocious girl who lives with her family on Lake Superior despite the increasing presence of non-natives. Through a series of challenges, Omakayas learns about the luxuries of dreaming and the importance of family.

The greatest stories are often found within our family tree. Inspired by her grandfather, Erdrich's sixth standalone novel  The Night Watchman is a fictionalized version of his fight to resist the Indian termination policies of the 1940s and 1960s. An undeniably powerful work that grapples with the best and worst of human nature, Erdrich captivates readers' minds and hearts with great ease. Critically acclaimed, the novel earned her the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Do you have a favorite Louise Erdrich novel? Let us know in the comments below.