The Round House (HarperCollinsPublishers, 2012) joins four other finalists in the fiction category, including This Is How You Lose Her (Riverhead Books, Penguin Group USA), by Junot Díaz, the Dominican-American author who last week was awarded a so-called genius grant by the MacArthur Foundation.
The other fiction nominees are A Hologram for the King (McSweeney’s Books), by Dave Eggers; Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers), by Ben Fountain; and The Yellow Birds (Little, Brown and Company), by Kevin Powers.
Erdrich’s story, though fictional, is especially timely considering recent news about the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and revelations of rampant sexual abuse on at least one reserve. It’s the second in a trilogy begun in 2008 with The Plague of Doves (a Pulitzer Prize finalist, also published by HarperCollins), and unfolds in the aftermath of the rape of Geraldine Coutts on her North Dakota Ojibwe reservation in 1988. Her 13-year-old son, Joe, takes revenge into his own hands as he watches, helpless, while his mother succumbs to the emotional injuries wrought by trauma.