A New York Times Notable Book of 2017
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. Twenty-six-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.
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About the Author
Louise Erdrich is the author of fifteen novels as well as volumes of poetry, children’s books, short stories, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her novel The Round House won the National Book Award for Fiction. The Plague of Doves won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and her debut novel, Love Medicine, was the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. Erdrich has received the Library of Congress Prize in American Fiction, the prestigious PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. She lives in Minnesota with her daughters and is the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore.
Date of Birth:June 7, 1954
Place of Birth:Little Falls, Minnesota
Education:B.A., Dartmouth College, 1976; M.A., Johns Hopkins University, 1979
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Hard to explain why this was such a good read. The style captures the confusion and boredom that could be the beginning of the end.
Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich is a very highly recommended novel of speculative fiction. Cedar Hawk Songmaker is twenty-six, pregnant, and writing this book for her unborn child. Cedar is the adopted daughter of Sera and Glen Songmaker, open-minded Minneapolis liberals who have raised her to embrace her Ojibwe roots. She is also in contact for the first time with her birth mother, Mary Potts, who lives up north, on the Ojibwe reservation. She contacted Mary Potts because she wanted to understand her origins for herself and her baby. While she hasn't been paying a lot of attention to the news, apparently evolution is moving backwards. While it is moving backwards quickly for many creatures and plants, what is alarming is that women are now giving birth to infants who are from a more primitive species. A new government is in control. Now it seems that pregnant women are being rounded up and sent to special hospitals, or prisons, so they can be watch and monitored during their pregnancy. Apparently Cedar may be one of the few women who is giving birth to what seems to be a normal baby. Cedar manages to hide for a while, but with eyes everywhere watching, it is questionable how long she can stay hidden. Cedar writes down everything that is happening to her and around her. She records her unborn child developmental milestones, and notes about how life used to be for her baby. This is how to set a pregnant woman in a bleak dystopian world and have her talk to her unborn child. Erdrich captures what was missing in a previously reviewed novel (The End We Start From). In that novel the protagonist also basically ignored the news and didn't have a whole lot of information about the disaster, but here Cedar shares what she knows, which helps the reader enormously. Cedar's parents tried to get her to see the news - she was just preoccupied with her own news. I know it might seem shocking for some people, but there are many who don't watch or read the news with any regularity. I get that. I believe that if the world was ending in some way that information, real information would be lacking and not freely forthcoming from officials. But I also believe that people would get a hold of the dribs and drabs of what was happening and react accordingly. Cedar is a well-developed character and definitely comes across as a realistic individual with her own thoughts and feelings. She is an intelligent woman, who, once she understands what is happening, she decides on a plan of action. She is portrayed as human and thus is conflicted enough to have issues with the baby's father and her adoptive mom. She struggles while trying to bond with her birth family. I appreciated that Erdrich had Cedar embrace a religion, Catholicism. She's not perfect, but she manages to adapt to every impossible situation she is faced with. I found Future Home of the Living God to be an excellent novel. The writing is extraordinary - intelligent and captivating. The narrative is compelling, with a plot that is chilling and believable. Erdrich has several current political points that translate well into this plot, such as the misuse/abuse of political power, governmental spying, reproductive freedom, self-determination, environmental changes, and questioning the wisdom of altering biology. I raced through this novel and stayed up too late finishing it because I simple couldn't set it down. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.
A book that shows us how the beginning of the end would look like.
Very thoughtful. I would like to have more scientific details about what was going on. I have my own ideas but it would be interesting to see how close they came to the author's line of thinking.