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The Plague of Doves

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  13,248 ratings  ·  1,889 reviews

The unsolved murder of a farm family still haunts the white small town of Pluto, North Dakota, generations after the vengeance exacted and the distortions of fact transformed the lives of Ojibwe living on the nearby reservation.

Part Ojibwe, part white, Evelina Harp is an ambitious young girl prone to falling hopelessly in love. Mooshum, Evelina's grandfather, is a reposito

Hardcover, 313 pages
Published April 29th 2008 by Harper
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Dec 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 18, 2015 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
Jennifer (aka EM)
Mar 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
May 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Elise Russell
Apr 26, 2008 rated it liked it
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 going to pull ...more
Dana Stabenow
Sep 24, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Sallie Dunn
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first novel I’ve read set in a twentieth century setting about French and American Indian descendants and the prejudices with which they’ve had to live. It has a fascinating and meandering plot with interesting characters peppered throughout. Ultimately it’s a who-done-it. For me, the ending was a tad of a letdown because you find out who but you don’t find out why.
Sep 23, 2018 rated it liked it
William Faulkner meets Toni Morrison
This was a pleasant and downright surprising acquaintance with an author who until now was completely unknown to me. Louise Erdrich apparently already has written a whole oeuvre, but this book was her real, albeit late, breakthrough (2008). The relationship with Faulkner is immediately noticeable: just like the Nobel Laureate, all her books are set in a very limited geographical area in the United States; in her case in North Dakota, with its many Indian (I th
Dec 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Nov 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
You can’t beat Louise Erdrich for complex storylines, deeply human characters, and some degree of levity through the worst things that can happen, and The Plague of Doves is no exception. About a murder of a farming family on Ojibwe land in North Dakota, and the terrible hate crime that followed the initial slaying, this book follows families from both sides of the crimes, across generations, until certain resolutions are reached. This book explores secrets and shame, budding sexuality, changing ...more
Sep 10, 2019 rated it liked it
I some of the stories and characters in this book are haunting and wonderful and some of them are haunting and scary. As a source of history for the town, I liked some of the voices better than others.

This is my third book by this author. I am still looking forward to reading more.
Chris Chapman
Oct 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Despite winning most of the available literary prizes in the US, "there is not the breathless anticipation for the next Erdrich that, say, takes over when a new Don DeLillo or Donna Tartt is on its way". The article suggests that DeLillo's themes are seen as being grand in scope, as describing the American condition, whereas Erdrich, who draws on her Native American (Ojibwe) heritage, is pigeon-holed as parochial, describing concerns that may not have resonance for the vast majority of people in ...more
May 12, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Apr 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Matt Brady
Apr 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Lisa Reads & Reviews
Nov 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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).
Jun 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
By the time I was half way through I was planning to give this 3 stars but the second half really picked up. It was definitely tough to get into as there are so many characters with detailed backstories, different time periods intersecting and multiple narrators, but everyone’s connections did make it really interesting. It also wrapped up nicely.
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
In 1911, 2 young Native Americans were lynched by a mob; they were falsely accused of the murder of a white family on their North Dakota homestead. Like a French Braid, this novel weaves in the stories of 3 generations of family members connected to that act of brutal racial injustice. Erdrich is a masterful story-teller. I will follow her anywhere she wants to lead me. These characters were so real, that their stories felt familiar, as if I was hearing old family tales that had just slipped bey ...more
May 08, 2008 rated it liked it
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
May 24, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Feb 09, 2013 rated it liked it
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
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
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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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