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The Night Watchman

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  1,369 ratings  ·  247 reviews
Based on the extraordinary life of National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrichs  grandfather who worked as a night watchman and carried the fight against Native dispossession from rural North Dakota all the way to Washington, D.C., this powerful novel explores themes of love and death with lightness and gravity and unfolds with the elegant prose, sly humor, and depth ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published March 5th 2020 by Little, Brown Book Group (first published March 3rd 2020)
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Average rating 4.28  · 
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 ·  1,369 ratings  ·  247 reviews

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Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
"But every so often the government remembered about Indians. And when they did, they always tried to solve Indians."

The Night Watchman is a novel about a senator who tried to emancipate Native American tribes in the 1950s and one of the men who led the fight against this so-called emancipation: Emancipated. But they were not enslaved. Freed from being Indians was the idea. Its also about the people who live on Turtle Mountain Reservation, tracing their paths in life as emancipation looms.
Angela M
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved everything about this book - the writing, the characters, the story, the importance of it and that Louise Erdrich pays a wonderful tribute to her grandfather who inspired this story. Its a beautifully written and depicts a strong sense of community, of family, and of the hard life on the Chippewa Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota. Its filled with characters that are easy to love, to admire, to root for as they fight for their identity, their land, not to be terminated, as they ...more
Will Byrnes
On August 1, 1953, the United States Congress announced House Concurrent Resolution 108, a bill to abrogate nation-to-nation treaties, which had been made with American Indian Nations for as long as the grass grows and the rivers flow. The announcement called for the eventual termination of five tribes, including the Turtle Mountain Band of Chipewa.
My grandfather Patrick Gourneau fought against termination as tribal chairman while working as a night watchman. He hardly slept.
- from the Author
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)

It felt so wonderful to be back in the hands of a master storyteller and that is Louise Erdrich. The characters are extremely well developed and I felt as though I knew them all, I didnt want to leave this story. The setting for a novel about American Indians in the 1950s is a unique one, often books are about the start of our elimination of the Indians.I wanted to know everything about the reservation, the new bill that Congress was going to pass and how these incredible
Diane S ☔
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lor-2019
Authentic and amazing, are the two words I would choose to describe, not only this novel, but the majority of her books in general. I've heard much writing advice, telling one to write what you know, and Erdrich certainly did that and more. Here, she writes about her grandfather, a night watchman at the jewel board plant in North Dakota. So, along with a few other real life characters, we are introduced to others that make this reservation home. Set during the time when the government attempted ...more
Elyse  Walters
Mar 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Library overdrive ebook

I loved everything about this novel....
... The storytelling (highlighting a familys strength and resilience), is exceptional!!!!
... The inspiration for this book is moving. (the authors grandfather)
... The characters (primary and supporting), are wonderfully developed
... The history is fascinating and important
... The writing is beautiful

If you absolutely love Louise Erdrich, like I do, youll enjoy this book too!

Thumbs UP 👍 👍 5 stars!!

Blessings ( again and again)...
Dec 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, 2019-read
Erdrich has written a captivating pageturner about the golden 1950's in the US - an era that was only golden if you were white, of course. While the black population suffered under Jim Crow, there were also widespread government efforts to terminate treaties with Native American tribes, which would have resulted in them losing their rights and status. The goal: Assimilation instead of self-determination. Erdrich's grandfather Patrick Gourneau, Chairperson of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa ...more
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ew
An enthusiastic 4 stars!

The Night Watchman is my first Louise Erdrich novel, but it wont be my last. For me, this was historical fiction at its best. The novel is partially based on Erdrichs grandfather, who worked as a night watchman in a jewel factory and who led the fight against dispossession of residents of the Turtle Mountain Reservation. In parallel, the story focuses on fictional sisters Patrice and Vera, who were born on the reservation. After moving to the city, Vera disappears, and
Ron Charles
Mar 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two years ago, Louise Erdrich thought she would never write again. The National Book Award-winning author of The Round House and more than a dozen other treasured novels had abandoned several manuscripts and given up. She was certain her impetus had disintegrated.

Fortunately for us, she was wrong.

One day, she woke from her depressed slumber impelled to read a cache of letters written in the middle of the 20th century by her grandfather Patrick Gourneau. He had been chairman of the Turtle
Be still my heart......

You are only as strong as the strength of your it from the vastness of the government and its treaties to the inner workings and core of the single human individual.

Louise Erdrich gifts us with an amazing novel birthed from the letters and personal actions of her own grandfather. Erdrich, at one point, felt an arid dryness that visits upon talented authors when the story just does not come. But it was then that she considered visiting the source. The source,
Anna Luce
★★★✰✰ 3 stars

After reading many reviews praising The Night Watchman, I had quite high expectations for this novel. Having now read it, I can't say that I found this to be either very good or bad.
Louise Erdrichs own grandfather was the inspiration for the character of Thomas Wazhashk and for the events that transpire in The Night Watchman. Set in 1953 Thomas, like Erdrichs grandfather, works as a night watchman. As a member of the Chippewa Council he loves and wants to protect his community. When
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Erdrich brings alive the Turtle Mountain reservation in North Dakota with a rich panoply of memorable characters over two momentous years (1953-1954), when a Congressman sought to emancipate the Chippewa from their lands and tribal affiliations. Thomas Washashk, the night watchman at a jewel bearing plant, organizes, writes letters, and eventually makes his way to the House of Representatives to advocate for his people. [This character is inspired by Erdrichs own grandfather.]

Erdrich is a
Mar 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Night Watchman by Minnesota bookstore tycoon, Louise Erdrich is a wonderful sprawling and rambling delight. Honestly, it is amazing and more than a little inspiring that bookstore mogul Erdrich can find the time to crank out such an amazing story in between updating store bestseller bays, refreshing the bookmark spinner, and interviewing candidates for that part-time barista position. And when I say The Night Watchman is sprawling and rambling I mean it in the best way possible. It is ...more
Kasa Cotugno
So happy that Louise Erdrich has returned to her native American roots and has produced a work that is most personal to her, inspired by her grandfather, the eponymous Night Watchman. In 1953-54, the Turtle Mountain Clan was in danger of losing the land that had been granted to them by charter "as long as the rivers run," by the imminent passage of a federal House Bill. Over the preceding decades, the tribe's members had learned how to make do in hardscrabble fashion, but it was their land and ...more
Most books about native Americans are set either in the olden days, before reservations, or in the present day, so I found this books 1950s setting really fascinating. The lives of the older people in this book have straddled this huge, astonishing change. What must it have been like to lose what they lost in one lifetime? To go from being hunters and gatherers to being catapulted into the 1950s, with cars and TVs and manufactured everything? The older characters are connected to traditional ...more
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is the early 1950s, and Patrice (AKA Pixie) is working in a plant in North Dakota, the sole support of her mother, brother, and drunken parasite father. Her Uncle Thomas is the night watchman at the plant, and he learns of a federal government plan to emancipate the Indians and abrogate the old treaties. He is concerned that if tribes are to be terminated from government assistance, the result will be more poverty and death, and loss of tribal land, and hes determined to send a delegation to ...more
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, edelweissplus
Louise Erdrich's The Night Watchman in the best book I've read in years. Over the days that I've read it, it has stayed with me, almost like being in its own right, drawing my attention, suggesting a different perspective, leading me to smile at the wonders this world holds. This may sound like hyperbole, but it is not. Last night, I work up at 3a.m., wide awake and ready to dive back into The Night Watchman. I didn't want to wait until morning, until I'd had "enough" rest to return to it.

Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5, rounded up. The personal and political, combined with great empathy, depth of character and superb story-telling, make for a fine and moving novel. And if that isn't enough, there is the beautiful poetic spareness of the prose. That's nothing new when writing about the majority of Louise Erdrich's novels. Sure, I'm an admirer, a fan, and have been one for years, going back to her impressive debut, Love Medicine. I was, therefore, extremely happy (and lucky) that I was able to attend an ...more
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just love Erdrich's writing.

Again she managed to tell a melancholy tale of indigenous indentity in an uplifting, respectful and in parts humorous way. Her characters are deeply fleshed out, flawed, courageous, always in search of their identity as a people. As reader you just have to be in awe of them and take them into your heart.

In her latest novel we follow the path of Thomas Wazhushk who works as a Night Watchman while he simultanously tries to defend his tribe against the Termination act
Robert Blumenthal
A friend of mine and I were reflecting on the composer Beethoven and agreeing that no composer so improved in his composition of music as much as he did throughout his life. For how wonderful his earlier and middle work was, when he composed those last 5 unbelievably great string quartets, he reached a whole other level. I am feeling the same way about Louise Erdrich. She's always been a great and important writer, but it just seems like she is getting better and better. The Night Watchman is ...more
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Last summer my husband and I met with the Blue Water Indigenous Alliance to donate an heirloom bible given to my husband's fourth-great-grandmother by John Riley, Ojibwe chief of the Black River Band. The bible is currently on display in the Port Huron Museum and will become part of a new museum highlighting native heritage in the Port Huron area.

The 1826 New Testament had been published by the American Bible Society without a binding. Someone encased it in thick, rich brown leather held
Marilyn C.
Mar 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2020
3.5 Stars
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
No one writes better of the American Indian experience in the past century than Louise Erdrich. Because this novel is part biographical, it carries the weight of truth of the US government's ongoing efforts to terminate tribes and their rights under legally signed and recognized treaties. That includes a recent effort by our current president and the Interior Department to terminate yet another tribe. Yet, the spirit of the story is of a close-knit people who survive, laugh, and love. This novel ...more
Bruce Katz
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-fiction
A splendid, moving, big-hearted, expansive story that re-imagines the true story of her grandfather's effort to overturn an early 1950s Congressional proposal to (once again) take away Indian land and financial support. There's no way I can begin to capture the richness of the book, its strands of love and loss, cruelty, the effort (not always successful) to maintain dignity in the most penurious circumstances, numinous moments where the facade of the ordinary cracks for a moment so reveal ...more

Just not feeling the audio. Alas. Won't rate it since it wouldn't be fair.
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Unlike her last two books, The Night Watchman does not focus on a single horrific event. This book was lovely, more of an experience of time and place than a heavily plotted story. It says important things about justice, poverty, tradition and the acceptance and appreciation of family and home, regardless of their flaws. The writing is strong and straight forward with a natural poetry that never feels like too much. It was a joy to listen to Erdrich narrate the book, she has a beautiful voice ...more
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So first let me say this book is one of my most treasured possessions. I won this book from a Goodreads give-away. It's the very first time I've received a copy of a book before it's been published and I will always treasure it.
I love Louise Erdrich. She has written some of my all time favorite books: Master Butcher's Singing Club and Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. She has a way of telling a story that takes you there. She develops complex characters who deal with real-life
Dani Roulette
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes you read a book at just the right time. Sometimes this hurts and you feel everything too deeply but you dont care because your spirit was thirsty. In other words, it's what your spirit needed. This was my experience with The Night Watchman which I read with @erins_library (check out her Instagram!)

This is Ojibwe author Louise Erdrichs latest fictional novel that is steeped in the real life story of her grandfather's battle against a newly introduced termination bill that sought to
Mar 24, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
This probably deserves a higher rating but Ive had a difficult time focussing on my reading of late....hmmmm, wonder why?! Like many Erdrich novels, there are a lot of characters. I loved and rooted for Patrice/Pixie, especially on her trip to Minneapolis and Thomas, the Night Watchman, is such a very honourable man. I wanted more of Zhannat. No spoilers, but there were sections that needed expanding and others that seemed to not move the plot forward. Perhaps the kind of novel that benefits ...more
Mar 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved loved loved this! In the midst of the California lockdown, I listened and read this book sitting in the window on a stormy day and could not have been any more enamored. Such gorgeous writing, I would stop and reread sentences over and over, her book was like a balm to my soul today.
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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 ...more

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“And Patrice thought another thing her mother said was definitely true—you never really knew a man until you told him you didn’t love him. That’s when his true ugliness, submerged to charm you, might surface.” 3 likes
“It was something about being an Indian. And the government. The government acted like Indians owed them something, but wasn’t it the other way around? She hadn’t been educated in a boarding school or educated in any way about Indians. From her Catholic schooling, she would never have known about Indians at all except as a bunch of heathens who were vanquished or conveniently died off. She’d hardly known her family and was as assimilated as an Indian could be. And people hardly ever recognized her as an Indian. So why did she firmly see herself as an Indian? Why did she value this? Why did she not long for the anonymity of whiteness, the ease of it, the pleasures of fitting in? When people found out why she looked a little different, they would often say, “I never thought of you as an Indian.” And it would be said as a compliment. But it felt more like an insult.” 0 likes
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