“The Child of the Next Dawn”, an intimate chronicle of an apocalypse, by Louise Erdrich

The Child of the Next Dawn

by Louise Erdrich

Translated from English (United States) by Isabelle Reinharez

Albin Michel, 404 p., € 22.90

The world is collapsing, victim of a biological apocalypse linked to global warming. It’s no longer snowing in Minnesota, the winters are warm. Strange animals and plants appear here and there, women give birth to monstrous babies. The United States, where the story is located, gradually falls under the thumb of a totalitarian and ultra-religious government. Nobody knows exactly what is going on, the population is content to build up stocks of food and weapons while waiting for the end of the world.

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“Maybe God has decided that we are an idea that is no longer worth thinking about”, writes the young Cedar Hawk Songmaker to her child, after she has just discovered herself pregnant. Women in her condition are forcibly confined to centers, monitored until they give birth, and the craziest rumors circulate about them.

A letter to her unborn child

For this young Indian adopted at birth by a white couple “Indulgent, Buddhists at heart and environmentalists”, the urgency is now to meet his biological parents. All she knows about them is their names and that they live on an isolated Ojibwa reserve. This is the starting point for a frantic flight to protect her baby.

For those who do not know the author of The choir of master butchers, of The Curse of the Doves and a dozen other novels, Louise Erdrich is to the Indians of America what Toni Morrison is to the blacks of this same nation.

This 66-year-old novelist and poet, daughter of an Ojibwa Indian and a father of German-American origin, weaves a unique literary web that does justice to the first natives of America, victims of the tragic land dispossession , social and cultural that we know.

An incredible gift for telling stories

In this dystopia, very different from her usual production, we find her favorite themes: interbreeding, relationship to family, religion, origins, relationships between men and women, transmission… Themes that she tackles with finesse and intelligence, mixing poetry, humor and realism, confirming her incredible gift as a storyteller.

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This chilling novel sounds like a warning from his pen. It was written, explains Louise Erdrich, in 2001 under the presidency of George W. Bush, and completed in 2016 under that of Donald Trump. Two complicated periods for the climate, democracy, women’s rights and minorities in the United States.


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