Arts & Entertainment
Book Reviews: The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich

The reviews are coming in for "The Painted Drum," the latest novel from Ojibwe author.

The book is told from two points of view. One is Faye, a part-Ojibwe woman whose discovery of a drum leads her to question her identity. The other is Bernard Shaawano, an Ojibwe whose grandfather made the drum.

"Erdrich handles it beautifully," The New York Times reviewer says of the novel's structure. "The two voices share, besides their common themes, a passion for natural detail. Faye's attention to the countryside is charged with her memories of childhood and of her sister, while in Bernard's narrative, the symbols of the natural world assume real if intangible powers."

The book "is a hopeful study of the power of memory, which cripples the soul when suppressed and deepens it when explored," The Minneapolis Star Tribune says.

The Hartford Courant says the novel doesn't rival Erdrich's best work but that "it offers the startling imagery and remarkable insights into love, foolishness, bravery and betrayal we expect from Erdrich."

The Houston Chronicle says Erdrich is at her best when conveying Ojibwe legends. "Shaawano's tale of the painted drum immediately seizes the reader. It's a doomed and sorrowful story," the reviewer says.

The Miami Herald says the book "possesses a sort of graceful magic." "In her hands words glow like gems, precious as talismans, and they build a sturdy foundation for her vivid characterizations and dazzling descriptions," the reviewer observes.

Get the Story:
'The Painted Drum': Off the Rez (The New York Times 9/11)
Fiction review: 'The Painted Drum' by Louis Erdrich (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 9/11)
'Drum' reverberates with magical Ojibwe heart (The Harford Courant 9/11)
SPELL BOUND (The Miami Herald 9/11)

Relevant Links:
Louise Erdrich -

Related Stories:
NYT Book Review: 'Little House' for Indian Country (06/20)
NYT Book Review: 'Four Soul's by Louise Erdrich (07/07)
Book Reviews: 'Four Souls' by Louise Erdrich (06/28)
An interview with Ojibwe author Louise Erdrich (03/29)
Louise Erdrich: Writing and listening for crows (02/16)