"When he needed to calm his mind, he opened a book. Any book. He had never failed to feel refreshed, even if the book was no good."
The Night Watchman is not the first Louise Erdrich book we've reviewed, and it won't be the last! One of the most prolific writers today, Erdrich draws on her own family background as inspiration for this novel. The Night Watchman brings us to 1953 and the rural community of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians in North Dakota to tell us a couple different stories. One is the story of Thomas, who is the night watchman at a local plant and native council member. He learns about a new "emancipation bill" being floated in Congress, and recognizing the danger it poses to lose their recognition, organizes the tribe against it. Thomas is based off Erdrich's own grandfather, who was also a night watchman and fought against tribal dispossession. The novel also follows the story of Patrice, who works at the local plant but sets out for the big city (Minneapolis) to find her missing sister. Although the stories felt a little too separate at times, and didn't really seem to link up in the end, we enjoyed the little world Erdrich populates in this novel, filled with local characters and culture. And as always, Erdrich finds a way to breathe life into abstract topics like jurisdiction and treaties by illustrating how they impact people on the ground. Cozy up with this for a solid winter read.