My favorite American writer is Louise Erdrich, member of Turtle Mountain Band, Chippewa, author of The Beet Queen, and winner of the National Book Award for her novel The Round House. I'm reading her new novel right now, Future Home of the Living God, which is even more incredible than every one of her past novels. She just keeps getting better and better. She writes in the voice of Cedar Hawk Songmaker, who was adopted off the reservation by nice white Minneapolis liberals. Four months pregnant, Cedar finds herself in a world where evolution is going backward and women who give birth to healthy babies are imprisoned. Evolution going backward my biggest, sharpest nightmare. Atwood and Erdrich talk about feminism, Native America, Canada and writing imperfect women characters without judgement. Erdrich also owns Birchbark Books in Minneapolis, and is active in preserving and teach the Ojibwe language. I recommend every single one of her books.
Here's a small, inspiring bit of the interview.
I am working through the history of my own tribe, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. Over and over I see how close we came to losing everything. And yet, in spite of the most disastrous deprivations, how firmly fixed our people were on surviving and keeping our identity alive. My grandfather Patrick Gourneau, with a meager government-boarding-school education, figured out how to save our tribe from termination in the mid-1950s. That gives me hope.