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Future Home of the Living God

By: Louise Erdrich

Publisher: HarperCollins Trade

Imprint: Harper

Format: Hardcover | ISBN: 9780062694058

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Electronic | Audio | Trade Paperback

On Sale: | Pages: 288

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Louise Erdrich, the New York Times bestselling, National Book Award-winning author of LaRose and The Round House, paints a startling portrait of a young woman fighting for her life and her unborn child against oppressive forces that manifest in the wake of a cataclysmic event.The world as we know it is ending. Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. Thirty-two-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted daughter of a pair of big-hearted, open-minded Minneapolis liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest of America around her. But for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant.Though she wants to tell the adoptive parents who raised her from infancy, Cedar first feels compelled to find her birth mother, Mary Potts, an Ojibwe living on the reservation, to understand both her and her baby's origins. As Cedar goes back to her own biological beginnings, society around her begins to disintegrate, fueled by a swelling panic about the end of humanity. There are rumors of martial law, of Congress confining pregnant women. Of a registry, and rewards for those who turn these wanted women in. Flickering through the chaos are signs of increasing repression: a shaken Cedar witnesses a family wrenched apart when police violently drag a mother from her husband and child in a parking lot. The streets of her neighborhood have been renamed with Bible verses. A stranger answers the phone when she calls her adoptive parents, who have vanished without a trace. It will take all Cedar has to avoid the prying eyes of potential informants and keep her baby safe. A chilling dystopian novel both provocative and prescient, Future Home of the Living God is a startlingly original work from one of our most acclaimed writers: a moving meditation on female agency, self-determination, biology, and natural rights that speaks to the troubling changes of our time.
...fascinating if not entirely satisfying... Unfortunately, too many moments in Erdrich's novel are rushed through without sufficient explanation or elaboration... Because of the diary form, the novel's perspective is limited to what Cedar experiences personally or hears about, which also results in tantalizing plot points that aren't followed through.... I couldn't help wondering what was in the pages that Erdrich cut, and whether, had this book not been brought out so quickly, the loose ends might have come together in a more satisfying way. Still, the urgency of this novel's subject matter goes a long way to compensate for its flaws.
—New York Times
With its themes of evangelical fanaticism, racism and patriarchy, it gains resonance in being released during the Trump regime, which has cut off global health funding to organizations that offer or merely mention abortion as part of family planning. Besides, in genre fiction in particular, the success or failure of a book hinges less upon the opening tropes and more upon how the author carries them out; and Erdrich establishes her surprising and surprisingly funny book's specifics in lucid language and gripping scenes.... Among the book's many strengths are its urgency and suspense as well as the immediacy of its voice.... Erdrich applies her stinging perspective to remind readers how much has happened, how much keeps happening and how far humans have yet to go.
—Chicago Tribune
Erdrich takes readers in what would appear, at first glance, to be a striking new direction into dystopian fiction. But her latest novel still maintains the strong sense of Native identity and connection to place and the land that have distinguished many of her prior works.... Readers might not come away from FUTURE HOME OF THE LIVING GOD with anything resembling hope, but they will have much to consider --- including one model for how to survive the unthinkable.
It all suggests Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale"; as Erdrich writes in a note to her readers, it relates to a here and now of "white men in dark suits deciding crucial issues of women's health." At its best, it also plays a variation on Erdrich's great theme, experienced by so many of the Native American characters she's created during her career: Versions of the original sin through which invaders ruined indigenous cultures, murdering native peoples and stealing their land. This novel's theocracy is yet another illustration of killers invoking God to destroy paradise. Hence the late swerve � in a novel where we've spent much of our page-turning, heart-thumping time rooting for Cedar to remain free � to fantasies of native peoples taking back their land while governments around them disintegrate. It's a theme Erdrich introduces and then doesn't pursue, in a novel that's stuffed with intriguing ideas but uneven in advancing them and often unsure where to go next (or how to end).
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Future Home of the Living God" � the title comes from a roadside church sign � is a feverish and somewhat feeble novel. Erdrich's heart isn't really in her dystopian visions, and this novel's scenes of chases and escapes are hokey and feel derived from films.... The funny thing about this not-very-good novel is that there are so many good small things in it. Erdrich is such a gifted and (when she wants to be) earthy writer; her sentences can flash with wit and feeling, sunbursts of her imagination.... Even when Erdrich is not in top form, her books are readable, in the sense that even when Emmylou Harris sings second-rate material it sounds pretty good.... Signs and portents, auguries and premonitions. Erdrich's novel is packed with them, push notices from an onrushing nightmare.
—New York Times
Erdrich is not so much tantalizing as miserly with the details of her fantastical conceit. “Nobody knows exactly what is happening,” Cedar says, and neither do we. Throughout the novel, we're kept largely in the dark with her as she hides or flees from people out to capture her and steal her unborn baby. Her plight is intermittently exciting. Whom can she trust? Who might betray her next? But the novel remains weirdly depth-resistant.... Perhaps the problem stems from this novel's abnormally long and then rushed gestation period. Maybe it suffers from the conflicting motives of wanting to make a point but knowing that polemical novels are a drag. Or maybe if “Future Home” weren't sitting next to Erdrich's masterpieces, such as “The Plague of Doves” and “The Round House,” along with Atwood's “Handmaid's Tale,” it wouldn't seem so slack and minor.
—Washington Post
For all its contemplation, Future Home of the Living God is as much a thriller as it is a religious-themed literary novel — it thrives on narrow escapes, surprise character appearances, and a perpetual sense of peril. Braiding the two styles sometimes feels ungainly — Cedar's family portraits feel incomplete, as does Erdrich's depiction of how crazed the world has become. But her overall narrative is effective and cannily imagined.
—USA Today
[W]hile Atwood imagined her dystopia in nauseating specificity, Erdrich's remains unclear and oddly derivative.... The characters are the best thing about “Future Home of the Living God” — first among them, its complex, deeply intelligent and witty narrator, Cedar.... A lot of suspenseful action clicks into gear when the government, represented by an omniscient entity called Mother (must be related to Big Brother, because she works just the same), starts coming after pregnant women.... As Cedar puts it at one point, “Instead of the past, it is the future that haunts us now.” Next time the future comes to haunt her, Erdrich should pin it down a little more thoroughly. In the meantime, her wisdom, her humor and her storytelling fire make even one of her lesser works worth reading.
More than any other Erdrich novel, this is a fast-paced adventure tale. Observations about faith and family crop up only in the pauses between one peril after another. For that reason, the prose, with few exceptions, is far more streamlined than the customary Erdrich lyricism. These sentences are crafted to keep the action marching forward. The plot, with its episodes of stealth, flight and capture, borders on the improbable. But who's to say what forms of subjugation and heroism American authoritarianism may someday produce? As tough and resilient as Cedar Hawk proves to be, she faces two unrelenting foes, a regime with no regard for individuality, let alone women, and a climate just as merciless. Erdrich finally gives her poetic voice free rein when her heroine recalls the beauty of Minnesota winters past.
—San Francisco Chronicle
With more than a touch of Margaret Atwood's “The Handmaid's Tale,” “Future Home of the Living God” depicts a degraded natural world where religious zealots use the threat to reproduction to enslave fertile women. Here motherhood is at once a miraculous and a sinister force.
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
Louise Erdrich's grippingly dystopian 16th novel about a terrifying new order and the organized resistance that fights it doggedly.... There are many strands to this novel: race, class, the ruined environment, the beleaguered human family.... Plodding a bit as it traces Cedar's newly expanded family (Sweetie, a stepfather, an ancient grandmother, a younger sister), the sometimes overloaded narrative is most vivid and suspenseful when it focuses fully on her pregnancy.
—Boston Globe
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