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The Plague of Doves

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  10,108 Ratings  ·  1,570 Reviews

A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, The Plague of Doves—the first part of a loose trilogy that includes the National Book Award-winning The Round House and LaRose—is a gripping novel about a long-unsolved crime in a small North Dakota town and how, years later, the consequences are still being felt by the community and a nearby Native American reservation.

Though generations

Kindle Edition, 324 pages
Published (first published April 29th 2008)
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Dec 21, 2012 William1 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, us, 21-ce
Extraordinary. Erdrich uses a succession of first-person narrators that dovetail with each other beautifully, à la William Faulkner's The Hamlet. Each voice has its idiosyncrasies and slightly different vocabulary. The action is centered around the unsolved murder of a family of white farmers in the early twentieth century. Unfortunately, that evil was discovered at the time by a group of traveling Indian merchants. Only a tiny babe survived in her crib. The Indians are then summarily lynched by ...more
Will Byrnes
Sep 15, 2008 Will Byrnes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We open with a scene of mass murder. A child (Moses, Kal-El) is spared when the killer’s weapon jams. He quiets the baby with music. Violence and music permeate the following tales and only at the very end do we learn who the baby grew up to be and the identity of the killer. There are other atrocities to come. How these events came to be and the ongoing impact of time and transformation define this book.

Multiple narrators, multiple generations, much overlap between Native Americans and European
Jennifer (aka EM)
Mar 14, 2010 Jennifer (aka EM) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jennifer (aka EM) by: jo
Can I keep giving all the books I read this year four or five stars? Is my judgement becoming less and less credible (assuming it had any credibility in the first place)? May I just say that it's all Goodreads' fault, and the many Goodreaders (you know who you are) who've led me to these authors and books that so precisely fulfill my every literary desire? I'm getting ruthless at picking and choosing among my to-read pile, going only for those I *know* will satisfy me - the responsibility for wh ...more
Feb 18, 2015 Nathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Last night, while I was at a vigil for Orlando, I saw a woman affiliated with the Salt Lake Islamic Society stand in front of an audience of two thousand and weep. She spoke of the hatred she faced every single day as a Muslim woman. She spoke about being demonized. She spoke of the way her faith taught her to love. And she wept because someone had taken something so valuable to her and twisted it with his own hatred to kill fifty people. She stood in solidarity with the victims, offered her sup ...more
Apr 26, 2008 Elise rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interweaves the oral history & 1st person narratives of the members of a N. Dakota town & reservation to look at the aftermath & effects of an isolated murder of a white family and subsequent lynching of several innocent Indians. I couldn't read this in one sitting, so I was finding myself having a hard time keeping all of the different threads and families straight. There seemed to be so many that by the end when a new one started, I couldn't help thinking, "yikes, when is she is go ...more
May 16, 2008 jo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who love great literature; people with a great love for storytelling
louise erdrich wrote this with the wind of the spirit at her heels. what amazing writing. i'm going slowly, because a) the writing is too beautiful to hurry; b) the story is too intense to hurry; and, less fancifully, c) i need a solid plot-directed narrative to keep me going these days, and this book doesn't have one, so i am reading when the need for aforementioned is not too pressing.

this novel goes back and forth in time and space, focusing on a host of characters of mixed indian-white ethn
Nov 25, 2012 Mosca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: involved readers
Recommended to Mosca by: Louise Erdrich

We never really can escape our own histories. And our histories are darker than we realize.

These two truths frequently inform the complex plots and genealogies of Louise Erdrich’s fiction.

In many of her earlier writings she has taken whole series of books to puzzle these interlocking plots and genealogies. She reveals hidden identities. And follows bloodlines of power through families. And she shocks and haunts us with secreted knowledge that becomes, at least, partiall
Jul 16, 2008 Sonja rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Pam Barnes
Recommended to Sonja by: No one
Louise Erdrich, master storyteller and language artist, does it again, but even better this time. Louise write about the intersection of the caucasian and Obijibwe (spelling?) of the Dakotas. This book, more than anything, explores the ripples in the pond effect one horrendous action can have on future generations in a community. Other reviewers have said that the book is too confusing, too many characters, too many storylines. My response is, that if you wish to know what it is like to live in ...more
Apr 29, 2008 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, novels
Really, really good. There are multiple narrators and each of their stories could stand independently, but somehow they also form a cohesive novel. After you read the book, you should read Claire Messud's essay on The Plague of Doves in they July 17 issue of the New York Review of Books (or NYRB - pronouced "nerb," as in "Hey John - did you see the article on The Plague of Doves in the newest issue of the Nerb?"). I think it's on the website. I also think the book will be better the second time ...more
Dana Stabenow
Sep 24, 2009 Dana Stabenow rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
I have to be missing something about this book. I even went back and read the first page again and it didn't help. Why introduce the baby and then the baby as old woman and have nothing of her between except toward the end a brief description of her through the eyes of her lover? And why let Judge Coutts tell that story in flashback? After he married Geraldine? Too many flashbacks may be part of the problem. I feel like I've got whiplash.

This has to be one of the more disjointed books Erdrich ha
Joy H.
RE: _The Plague of Doves_ (2008) by Louise Erdrich
[This book was a Pulitzer Prize finalist (Fiction, 2009)]
[I read this book in Jan/Feb 2009. I added shelves on 4/1/11.]

For my comments about this book, please see the following discussion thread:

Below is the my first post at the link above:
Last night, our town library book group discussed _The Plague of Doves A Novel_ by Louise Erdrich.

Both the book and the author ar
Chance Maree
Nov 25, 2012 Chance Maree rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, literary

This is one of the rare occasions where I enjoyed the journey without much concern over where the novel was heading. The characters, dialogue, and ambiance, along with skilled writing, made reading more of a pleasant book cuddle which I looked forward to each evening. That said, the surprise final wrap up which drew together all the strings was a cherry on the Sunday. This review sounds like literary comfort food, and perhaps it is. Multiple narrators voice their experiences within an Indian res
Dec 08, 2011 Iceduck rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Louise Erdrich is a talented writer, and I've enjoyed several of her other books. So my expectations are high. The format of this is something we've seen from her too many times already-- it's time to experiment with something new.
The weaving of characters' stories is interesting, but not on par with the "Painted Drum" or what her former husband Michael Dorris did in "Yellow Raft on Blue Waters." The plot has so much potential and the writing is so compelling that it was disappointing that it di
May 19, 2008 Katina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
Louise Erdrich rules. I've liked her other stuff, but this book made even The Painted Drum pale in comparison. The characters in this book are complex and come alive and the narratives all weave together in unexpected and creative ways. I would recommend this for anyone, but especially for people with an interest in Native American history or folks from the Great White North (i.e., ND, SD, MN, or WI).
Matt Brady
Apr 07, 2013 Matt Brady rated it really liked it
It starts with a murder. Details are scant. There’s a man, and he’s just killed some people. A family. The only survivor of the massacre is a baby, crying in it’s cradle. The man’s gun has jammed. He plays music to soothe the baby, while he fixes his gun. And then….

We shift. To the childhood of Evelina Harp, a mixed blood growing up in the early 60’s and trying to navigate her tangled family and community history. To Bazil Antoine Coutts, a tribal judge straddling the line between law and tradit
Aug 23, 2013 Antigone rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction

If I'm to be honest about the work of Louise Erdrich, I must admit that I don't much care for her characters, her locales, her plots, or the meandering manner in which she chooses to negotiate her narrative. However, should you attempt to wrest one of these novels from my grasp be forewarned, you will have a bit of a fight on your hands.

Because what Ms. Erdrich excels at, what she brings so adeptly to the page, where her skills align like so many tumblers to the sophisticated lock of storytellin
Jul 25, 2015 Isabelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It has been a few months since I finished "the Plague of Doves", and I have been thinking about the book a lot ever since. I really liked everything about the novel: its construction as an assortment of portraits, the dramatic tension that culminates in the revealing of a shattering truth, and of course Louise Erdrich's impeccable voice. This is truly one of the many voices of America, telling its story of passion, excess, violence and betrayal. Ghosts loom large in this book, not only the ghost ...more
Lately I've been trying not to read too much about a book before I read it, though I wish I'd read something about this one. If I had just read here or over at Amazon, I would have figured out this was written in almost scraps, as stories, and not been so confused (I listened to it) as the story moved in tiny, episodic pieces. All delightful, well-crafted, and beautiful, but incomplete, at least in terms of what a novel might do.

That said, Erdrich is brilliant in the small moment, the tiny detai
May 24, 2008 Erica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't think Louise Erdrich can write a bad book, but this wasn't one of my favorites of hers. All the elements of a great book were there, but I felt like they didn't tie together. There were too many narrators that were too unrelated. The central "mystery" of the book wasn't played up enough. But there was some beautiful writing and character development in there. I would recommend for Louise Erdrich fans, but if you've never read her, start with Love Medicine or Tracks, and if you have read ...more
Victor Carson
I have now read five of Louis Erdrich’s novels, including her most recent best-seller, The Round House. I have liked all five but I think that The Plague of Doves, published in 2008 and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2009, may be her best. As the Goodreads’ description says,
“Louise Erdrich's … novel … centers on a compelling mystery. The unsolved murder of a farm family haunts the small, white, off-reservation town of Pluto, North Dakota. The vengeance exacted for this crime and the subseque
Jul 23, 2008 Kerfe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Erdich always tells a good story, and this is no exception.

A cast of thousands, all related by birth, marriage or trouble. Native Americans. Murders, births, tragedies, comedies, imprisonments, escapes, loves, hates--pieces of local history related from multiple points of view until they form a branched river that wanders off and circles ever back again to join in a muddy whole. Magic. Mystery. Numbing reality. Sex. Drugs. and of course, violins.

And the answer to "who done it?", at last. You sho
May 08, 2008 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who enjoy Louise Erdrich writing
Shelves: general-fiction, 2008
I enjoyed this book. The writing was rich and poetic. The plot was a little tiresome based on the fact that Erdrich cast a wide net in this novel that is less than 400 pages. Each chapter was a different perspective and time. Sometimes I found myself enjoying what I was reading but a little confused with context ("how exactly did I get here?").
Also the jacket blurb leads the reader into thinking there is a mystery to be solved. There is but it seems like a minor part of the plot, but a big part
Erdrich weaves the history of a small town in North Dakota, where over the years, the experiences of Native Americans and whites have tangled in a sometimes violent web. Some stories are more engaging and immediately grabbing than others, especially those of Holy Track who was lynched as a boy and of Marn Wolde, a woman with a passion for snakes who runs away with a preacher (who in turn develops a dangerous cult). The chapters and voices unite to create a common history of the area. Erdrich's w ...more
I guess as many reviewers pointed out- you need a score card of characters. Combined with that you almost need to read the end first to piece together the rest of the stories. Even though this is a novel, and Erdrich is a masterful writer, the book seemed less a novel and more stories that fit together as a whole. It could be that my three star rating is because I had to review back to remember what I had read each time I picked up the book. Many of the stories were probably four, or even five s ...more
Gosh, I sure liked this. I triangulate it between Gabriel García Márquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude," William T. Vollmann's "The Ice-Shirt" & the Coen Brother's "Fargo." The story of a family on a reservation, straddling history & orbiting around a central tragedy. I'll be reading more of Erdrich for sure. --MK
May 20, 2016 Jeanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-women
I'd read and enjoyed Round House when it came out and am looking forward to LaRose. I had not read Plague of Doves, the first in Louise Erdrich's loose trilogy before Round House, which stood on its own even though it has many of the same characters. I am making up for my sins of the past by now going through these books in order.

Plague of Doves is a tangled ball of yarn. It is comprised of seemingly unrelated stories from the history of several families. Many characters, across several generati
Jul 15, 2013 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I ordered "The Round House," another Erdrich novel, from my book club, and then a friend told me that RH involved characters from another Erdrich book, "The Plague of Doves"--and that I should read Doves first.

It was only available on disc at the library, so I checked it out. "Reading" a book on disc takes a long time, however--and you have to be near a CD player and doing something where you can focus all your attention. In other words, driving. I ended up reading/hearing the two books simultan
Nov 20, 2016 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who cares
Recommended to Stephen by: Lizbeth
Shelves: fiction
My nomination for the Nobel Prize in literature goes to Louise Ehrdrich, but it won't be come around again to English for years after 2016. Too bad. Her books are a roman a fleuve in which the river flows both ways. One published later than another may deal with an earlier time. Characters are hard to keep track of without index cards, tougher than a russian novel, but such marvelous characters it doesn't matter if you get them mixed up, can't remember who was somebody's grandmother. Each one o ...more
Nov 20, 2010 Kristen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In one word, this book was disappointing. Having read and enjoyed The Master Butcher Singing Club I thought picking up a book by Erdrich would be a safe bet. Maybe I just picked wrong, but I am not inclined to try again. This book was full of characters that could have been rich and interesting, but the narrative was so choppy due to frequent distracting change of narrators that I could never fully get into the interconnectiveness of the characters she tried to paint. There were a couple section ...more
Angela Demott
Any novel by Louise Erdrich is bound to be extremely well-crafted, nuanced, and a about much more than what is happening on the page. While The Plague of Doves is certainly all of these things, I struggled through it a bit. I think this novel might be better appreciated with a second read, as I found it difficult to get a grasp of the novel as a whole until I had made it through all of the diverging narratives; however, I'm not overcome by a strong desire to reread it anytime soon.

Erdrich's mult
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Karen Louise Erdrich is a American author of novels, poetry, and children's books. Her father is German American and mother is half Ojibwe and half French American. She is an enrolled member of the Anishinaabe nation (also known as Chippewa). She is widely acclaimed as one of the most significant Native writers of the second wave of what critic Kenneth Lincoln has called the Native American Renais ...more
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“When we are young, the words are scattered all around us. As they are assembled by experience, so also are we, sentence by sentence, until the story takes shape.” 2198 likes
“What happens when you let an unsatisfactory present go on long enough? It becomes your entire history.” 55 likes
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