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Common Book Program

The Diversity and Equity division is pleased to invite you to participate in the Office of the Chancellor's Common Book Program FY 2010. Selected from many great suggestions, the book that you are invited to read is Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich. All employees of the Office of the Chancellor are invited to join in this activity.

The Common Book Program is intended to serve as a focal point for engaging the employees of the Office of the Chancellor, both in St. Paul and at other sites, in formal and informal conversations about issues of importance that impact higher education, by offering them the opportunity to read and discuss the same book over the course of three months. The program is designed to foster communication, both structured and unstructured, regarding a significant contemporary issue.

Love Medicine book cover

Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

Love Medicine is Louise Erdrich's first novel, published in 1984. Erdrich revised and expanded the novel for an edition issued in 1993, and this version was considered the definitive edition until 2009 when Erdrich re-edited it. Erdrich explores sixty years of a small group of Chippewa (aka Ojibwa or Anishinaabe) living on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in North Dakota.

Each chapter is narrated by a different character. These narratives are very conversational, as if the narrators were telling a story, often from the first-person perspective. There are, however, five chapters that are told from a limited third-person perspective. The narratives follow a loose chronology aside from the first chapter (set in 1981). The tone of the novel is very conversational and indicative of the storytelling tradition in Native American culture. It draws from Ojibwa myths, story-telling technique and culture. However, it also incorporates the Euro-Indian experience especially through the younger generations who have been forced by government policy to accept, if not possess, Euro-American culture.

Love Medicine begins with June Morrisey freezing to death on her way home to the reservation. Although she dies at the beginning, June holds the novel together. Likewise, a love triangle among Lulu, Marie, and Nector also is a fixture between the narratives even though it is not a constant theme in the novel. A homecoming (or homing) theme is very important to this novel as well as other Native American literature. There are many themes contained in the stories in Love Medicine. In fact, this adds to the storytelling effect of her fiction: the multiple interpretations offered to the reader makes it that much more personal. Some other themes include: tricksters (in the Native American tradition), abandonment, connection to land, searching for identity and self-knowledge, and survival.

Common Book Blog

Dr. Whitney Stewart-Harris Comments On "Love Medicine"

Symbolism, in many ways, carries the message of Erdrich's Love Medicine. The symbols used include food, water, and various symbolic actions. All cultures are laden with various symbols which can be difficult to understand. Understanding the roles of symbols fosters growth in cultural competency. Any thoughts?

Dr. Whitney Stewart-Harris, Executive Director, Office of the Chancellor Diversity and Equity Division
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities

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Author: Louise Erdrich; Country: United States;

Language: English; Subject(s) Native Americans in the United States; Genre(s) Novel, Publisher Holt, Rinehart, and Winston; Harper Collins (rev. ed.); Publication date 1984, 1993 (rev. ed.); Media type Hardcover & Paperback; Pages 275 pp.; 367 pp. (rev. ed. paperback); ISBN ISBN 0-06-097554-7 (rev. ed. paperback) ; OCLC Number 10483004

For more information, please contact Sonya Castillo,  at 651.201.14639 or Sonya.Castillo@so.mnscu.edu