Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Fiction Review: The Night Watchman

Looking for my next audiobook in February, I noticed a recent (March 2020) release from Louise Erdrich, The Night Watchman, in my long audio review backlog. I previously listened to her novels LaRose and Future Home of the Living God (my reviews at the links) on audio and enjoyed them both.  I absolutely loved The Night Watchman.

Erdrich is a Native American author who writes novels about Native American people, families, and their lives. In this case, her latest novel is based in history and the life of her own grandfather. Did you know that in 1953 Congress passed a resolution to disband and abolish certain tribes, take all land from the Native American tribes and "relocate" them to urban areas, all in the name of "emancipation"? I didn't, and the historical backdrop here is stunning and horrifying. But, as always, Erdrich focuses in on one Indian community, a group of families, and what happens to them because of that push from Congress. In this case, her focus is on the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians (of which Erdrich is part). Most of the characters are purely fictional, but Thomas, an older man who takes charge of giving the local tribe a voice, is based in part on her own grandfather and the role he played in this historical event. Pixie, who now wants to be called Patrice, is Thomas' niece, a young adult Indian woman. She works in the local jewel plant, the only real option for employment on the reservation, where Thomas works as the night watchman. The novel follows Pixie's adventures in discovering the wider world and coming of age and her eventual inclusion in the delegation that travels to Washington, DC (also based in history).

Erdrich always reads her own audiobooks, which I love because her light accent and the cadence of her speech is authentic and really immerses you in the story (listen to a sample of the audio below). As with all of her novels, the characters are fully developed and feel real. With this book, the historical perspective is fascinating and the prejudice and racism they face in Washington, and from one real-life senator in particular, is stunning and left me rooting for the Turtle Mountain crew. But it's not all politics. The plotlines about Patrice's coming-of age and the other young people around her were warm and sweet and tender. In fact, there's a good sense of humor running through the novel, too. It was heartwarming and engrossing, as are all of her novels, and I was sorry when it ended, and I had to leave these characters behind.

464 pages, Harper


Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.


Note: This post contains affiliate links. Purchases from these links provide a small commission to me (pennies per purchase), to help offset the time I spend writing for this blog, at no extra cost to you.

Listen to a sample of the audiobook here, a scene with Thomas working as a night watchman and an introduction to Patrice, and/or download it from Audible at the link.


You can buy the book through, where your purchase will support the indie bookstore of your choice (or all indie bookstores)--the convenience of shopping online while still buying local:     


Or you can order The Night Watchman from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.



  1. I am not good with audiobooks, but I listened to the sample and she has a great reading voice! I am tempted.

    1. I didn't realize you don't usually listen to audios, Helen! I always have one going and listen while cooking, doing laundry, walking, etc.

      I love all of Louise Erdrich's novels on audio, this one was outstanding!

  2. oh wow this sounds like a very relevant book. I'll check it out!