A New York Times Notable Book of 2017
Louise Erdrich, the New York Times bestselling, National Book Award-winning author of LaRose and The Round House , paints a startling portrait of a young woman fighting for her life and her unborn child against oppressive forces that manifest in the wake of a cataclysmic event.Read more...
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A New York Times Notable Book of 2017
Louise Erdrich, the New York Times bestselling, National Book Award-winning author of LaRose and The Round House, paints a startling portrait of a young woman fighting for her life and her unborn child against oppressive forces that manifest in the wake of a cataclysmic event.
The world as we know it is ending. Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. Twenty-six-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted daughter of a pair of big-hearted, open-minded Minneapolis liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest of America around her. But for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant.
Though she wants to tell the adoptive parents who raised her from infancy, Cedar first feels compelled to find her birth mother, Mary Potts, an Ojibwe living on the reservation, to understand both her and her baby's origins. As Cedar goes back to her own biological beginnings, society around her begins to disintegrate, fueled by a swelling panic about the end of humanity.
There are rumors of martial law, of Congress confining pregnant women. Of a registry, and rewards for those who turn these wanted women in. Flickering through the chaos are signs of increasing repression: a shaken Cedar witnesses a family wrenched apart when police violently drag a mother from her husband and child in a parking lot. The streets of her neighborhood have been renamed with Bible verses. A stranger answers the phone when she calls her adoptive parents, who have vanished without a trace. It will take all Cedar has to avoid the prying eyes of potential informants and keep her baby safe.
A chilling dystopian novel both provocative and prescient, Future Home of the Living God is a startlingly original work from one of our most acclaimed writers: a moving meditation on female agency, self-determination, biology, and natural rights that speaks to the troubling changes of our time.
Erdrich channels Atwood
BookPage Top Pick in Fiction, November 2017
Add Louise Erdrich (LaRose, The Round House) to the growing list of literary authors to dabble in dystopian fiction. Her latest work, Future Home of the Living God, imagines a frightening, not-too-distant time, made all the more terrifying by its plausibility. The U.S. Congress has expanded a set of policies that began as the Patriot Act so that pregnant women can be “sequestered in hospitals in order to give birth under controlled circumstances.”
The reason for this expansion is not made immediately clear, but it becomes apparent through the story of 26-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, “the adopted child of Minneapolis liberals.” Born on an Ojibwe reservation, Cedar has never known her biological parents. As the novel opens, it’s been a year since Cedar’s birth mother sent her a letter asking if they could meet. Cedar ignored the request. But now that Cedar is four months pregnant, her perspective has changed, and she decides to meet her birth parents. But that’s not all that has changed. A biological disaster has occurred, “evolution has reversed,” and pregnant women are sent to detention centers so they can be monitored. Cedar is of particular interest to authorities, as they believe she is carrying one of the few “normal” babies not suffering from abnormalities.
Written as a diary to her unborn child, Future Home of the Living God chronicles Cedar’s experiences and the mysterious personages she encounters, most notably an omnipresent figure named Mother who appears on turned-off computer monitors and coos, “How are you feeling? I care. I’d like to know.”
If parts of this novel are pulpier than Erdrich’s previous work, the result is still a chilling work of speculative fiction and a bracing cautionary tale about environmental deterioration and the importance of women’s control of their own bodies.