“The Night Watchman” is a heartfelt story set in the heartland.
Someday, Louise Erdrich will win the Nobel Prize for literature, but that is not why one would want to read her latest novel, The Night Watchman. Read this book because of its amazing cast of characters. Their stories resonate deeply. In September of 1953, Patrice Paranteau works at the Turtle Mountain Jewel Bearing Plant nearby the Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota. Patrice dreams of making enough money to support her mother and brother and to follow her sister, Vera, to Minneapolis. Her uncle, Thomas Wazhushk, is the night watchman at the plant, and the tribal chairman. He attends to tribal business in between his nightly rounds. It is Thomas who takes on Senator Arthur V. Watkins who wants to terminate the rights of the tribe to reservation lands. This is the drama at the heart of the novel. While Thomas formulates ways to fight the termination, Patrice rescues Vera’s baby from a Minneapolis apartment, but not Vera. Patrice also fends off the unwanted advances of a local schoolteacher, and a boxer the teacher coaches. A phenomenal read.