Louise Erdrich is one of the most gifted, prolific, and challenging of
contemporary Native American novelists. Born in 1954 in Little Falls, Minnesota,
she grew up mostly in Wahpeton, North Dakota, where her parents taught at Bureau
of Indian Affairs schools. Her fiction reflects aspects of her mixed heritage:
German through her father, and French and Ojibwa through her mother. She worked
at various jobs, such as hoeing sugar beets, farm work, waitressing, short
order cooking, lifeguarding, and construction work, before becoming a writer.
She attended the Johns Hopkins creative writing program and received fellowships
at the McDowell Colony and the Yaddo Colony. After she was named
writer-in-residence at Dartmouth, she married professor Michael Dorris and
raised several children, some of them adopted. She and Michael became a
picture-book husband-and-wife writing team, though they wrote only one truly
collaborative novel, The Crown of Columbus (1991).
The Antelope Wife was published in 1998, not long after her separation
from Michael and his subsequent suicide. Some reviewers believed they saw in The
Antelope Wife the anguish Erdrich must have felt as her marriage crumbled,
but she has stated that she is unconscious of having mirrored any real-life
She is the author of a number of award-winning novels,
including Love Medicine; The Beet Queen; Tracks; and The Bingo Palace. She
also has written two collections of poetry, Jacklight, and Baptism of Desire.
Her fiction has been honored by the National Book Critics Circle (1984) and The
Los Angeles Times (1985), and has been translated into fourteen languages.
Several of her short stories have been selected for O. Henry awards and for
inclusion in the annual Best American Short Story anthologies. The
Blue Jay's Dance, a memoir of motherhood, was her first nonfiction work, and
her children's book, Grandmother's Pigeon, has been published by Hyperion
Press. She lives in Minnesota with her children, who help her run a small
independent bookstore called The Birchbark.
This biography was last updated on 08/14/2011.
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