Common Book Project

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The Round House

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Our Common Book Project brings the college community together around a shared reading experience. Each of our Common Books has connected students and employees with the larger campus community and the wider world beyond, and created opportunities for productive discussions on culture, equity, diversity, and inclusivity.

About The Book

The Round House, set in 1988 on a North Dakota Ojibwe reservation, is narrated in retrospect by 13-year-old Joe Coutts, son of tribal enrollment specialist Geraldine and tribal judge Bazil.

The novel avoids the sentimentality a reader might expect from a look back from adulthood into that crucial age; it opens with a horrific attack on Joe’s mother, and chronicles both the family’s difficult attempts to heal and young Joe’s quest for justice. The plot shares some features with a mystery novel, but is much more sweeping than a conventional mystery novel’s preoccupation with “whodunit” and catching the perpetrator.

The Round House engages readers in questions of legal jurisdiction on the reservation, tribal identity, both indigious religious and cultural traditions, and those brought by missionaries--and the conflicts between them. The novel also covers the very nature of justice itself, while following Joe’s struggles toward manhood and his evolving relationships with family and friends.

The Round House won a Minnesota Book Award and the 2012 National Book Foundation Award for fiction.

The Author

Louise Erdrich, one of Minnesota's most accomplished authors, has written thirteen critically acclaimed novels, poetry and short story collections, children’s books, and a memoir about motherhood. Ms. Erdrich is also the proprietor of Birchbark Books in Minneapolis.


We would love to hear how you are using the Century College Common book. If you have any comments or questions, please contact:

Larry Sklaney
Common Book Coordinator