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Louise Edrich’s The Night Watchmen wins 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Louise Edrich’s The Night Watchmen wins 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Master storyteller Louise Edrich bagged the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction as she took readers in another awestruck novel that depicted a strong sense of family, defining what it means to be in a community and its loving evocation of people trying to save their traditions.

The Night Watchmen is inspired by the extraordinary life of Edrich’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.

Fighting for freedom: The Night Watchmen

National Book Award-winning author Edrich tells the story of Thomas Wazhashk who is a night watchman at the jewel bearing plant, the first factory located near the Turtle Mountain Reservation, and 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 Native Americans. 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.

Complete list of 2021 Pulitzer Prize Winners and Finalists



A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth by Daniel Mason

Telephone by Percival Everett



Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America by Marcia Chatelain


The Three-Cornered War: The Union, The Confederacy, and Native Peoples in the Fight for the West by Megan Kate Nelson

The Deviant's War: The Homosexual vs. The United States of America by Eric Cervini



The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X by Les Payne and Tamara Payne


Red Comet: The Short and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath by Heather Clark

Stranger in the Shogun's City: A Japanese Woman and Her World by Amy Stanley



Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz


A Treatise on Stars by Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge

In the Lateness of the World by Carolyn Forché



Wilmington's Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy by David Zucchino


Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong

Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman's Search for Justice in Indian Country by Sierra Crane Murdoch

Check out the Fully Booked Collection: Pulitzer Prize winners throughout the years here.

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