One Book One Bozeman Title Announced

Encouraging Participation In Community Read Program

Monday Feb. 1st, 2021

Bozeman Public Library is excited to announce 2021’s selected title for its annual One Book One Bozeman program. The Night Watchman, by award winning author Louise Erdrich is this year’s choice. This annual event promotes literacy, community, and unity through the shared experience of reading a communal book.

Each year, a committee selects a book title for a month-long celebration of literature, including author events, book discussions, and more. This year’s event will look different, and we are encouraging individuals to read the book, introduce it to their book groups, neighbors, friends, and family, and participate in virtual options this upcoming winter. An extensive guide to enhance the experience of The Night Watchman will be available in February 2021 on the One Book One Bozeman website:

Louise Erdrich is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians and considered a prolific leader in contemporary Native American literature. She has won many awards for her poetry and her fiction alike; most notably, her novel The Round House (2012) won the National Book Award. Themes of her latest work, The Night Watchman, include community, family, love, and freedom.

Based on the extraordinary life of National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich’s grandfather who worked as a night watchman and carried the fight against Native dispossession from rural North Dakota all the way to Washington, D.C., this powerful novel explores themes of love and death with lightness and gravity and unfolds with the elegant prose, sly humor, and depth of feeling of a master craftsman.

Thomas Wazhushk is the night watchman at the jewel bearing plant, the first factory located near the Turtle Mountain Reservation in rural North Dakota. He is also a Chippewa Council member who is trying to understand the consequences of a new “emancipation” bill on its way to the floor of the United States Congress. It is 1953, and he and the other council members know the bill isn’t about freedom; Congress is fed up with Indians. The bill is a “termination” that threatens the rights of Native Americans to their land and their very identity. How can the government abandon treaties made in good faith with Native Americans “for as long as the grasses shall grow, and the rivers run”?

Since graduating high school, Pixie Paranteau has insisted that everyone call her Patrice. Unlike most of the girls on the reservation, Patrice, the class valedictorian, has no desire to wear herself down with a husband and kids. She makes jewel bearings at the plant, a job that barely pays her enough to support her mother and brother. Patrice’s shameful alcoholic father returns home sporadically to terrorize his wife and children and bully her for money. But Patrice needs every penny to follow her beloved older sister, Vera, who moved to the big city of Minneapolis. Vera may have disappeared; she hasn’t been in touch in months, and is rumored to have had a baby. Determined to find Vera and her child, Patrice makes a fateful trip to Minnesota that introduces her to unexpected forms of exploitation and violence, and endangers her life.

Thomas and Patrice live in this impoverished reservation community along with young Chippewa boxer Wood Mountain and his mother Juggie Blue, her niece and Patrice’s best friend Valentine, and Stack Barnes, the white high school math teacher and boxing coach who is hopelessly in love with Patrice.

In The Night Watchman, Louise Erdrich creates a fictional world populated with memorable characters who are forced to grapple with the worst and best impulses of human nature. Illuminating the loves and lives, the desires and ambitions of these characters with compassion, wit, and intelligence, The Night Watchman is a majestic work of fiction from this revered cultural treasure.

“This year has been a real rough one, as we all know too well, and we are really hoping to bring out the unity in the community with this year’s pick” says Corey Fifles, One Book One Bozeman committee member. “One Book will look different this year, but we’re using this as an opportunity to really focus on the book and the topics and themes it brings up. Plus, Louise Erdrich is such a well-known and well-respected author- we had to choose her latest work!”

Funding for One Book One Bozeman is provided by the Bozeman Public Library Foundation and Friends of the Bozeman Public Library. One Book One Bozeman kicks off in February 2021 and is free to the community.

Corey L. Fifles is a Reference, Programming, and Outreach Librarian at The Bozeman Public Library. The Bozeman Public Library creates opportunities than inspire curiosity, exploration, and connection.