Louise Erdich: “I wrote as if I were writing in secret”

From The Writer’s Almanac:

It’s the birthday of the novelist Louise Erdrich, born in 1954 in Little Falls, Minnesota. She grew up in Wahpeton, North Dakota, the eldest of seven children. Her father came from a family of German immigrants and her mother was French Ojibwe and both her parents taught in the school run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

She went on to Dartmouth, admitted into the first class that accepted women — and it was also the first year a Native American Studies Department was formed.

Her first novel, Love Medicine, was a bestseller and won a National Book Critics Circle Award. Love Medicine was made up of different stories told by all kinds of people living in and around a fictional reservation outside the town of Argus, North Dakota. Her second novel, The Beet Queen, was set in the town of Argus and focused on the German American population there. Since then she has set most of her novels in this same fictional place, novels like The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse, The Master Butchers Singing Club, and The Plague of Doves, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Erdrich has written 28 books, including fiction, non-fiction, poetry and children’s books. Her most recent book is a work of historical fiction entitled of The Night Watchman.

She said, “It didn’t occur to me that my books would be widely read at all, and that enabled me to write anything I wanted to. And even once I realized that they were being read, I still wrote as if I were writing in secret. That’s how one has to write anyway — in secret.”

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