My current research is focusing on post-9/11 dystopian literature and women’s reproductive agency. So the fact that Louise Erdrich’s new book fits neatly within these categories is highly convenient for me. Thanks, Erdrich! I was delighted to see that her new book appeared to be relevant to my project, so delighted, in fact, that I promptly broke my no-buy rule and bought the hardcover on the day it was released. Because, you know, research.
Cedar Songmaker is adopted by two liberal white hippies, and her birth family is Ojibwe. The world is in chaos, as evolution has started to regress. Women who become pregnant are giving birth to previous iterations of humans, and the world is terrified of its continuation. Cedar, naturally, is pregnant. And as she tries to connect the dots between her Ojibwe heritage and birth mother, Mary Potts, as well as her adopted parents, Glenn and Sera in Minneapolis, her own life and that of her child, falls within the crosshairs of a major governmental power struggle.
This is a major departure for Erdrich, but it is—in my view—highly welcome. Here, Erdrich draws on similar questions that P.D. James does in Children of Men but adds an intriguing racial and ability-oriented component that James lacks. I think this will make a provocative and interesting chapter in the book I am mapping out. And as far as Erdrich’s canon goes, I definitely feel that she can continue in the dystopian vein if she so chooses. Setting part of the novel on the reservation adds a fascinating power dynamic that I’d like to see her explore in more detail.
Cross-posted to my blog.