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In his class, Erdrich began the exploration of her own ancestry that would eventually inspire her poems, short stories and novels.
After receiving her master’s degree, Erdrich returned to Dartmouth as a writer-in-residence.
Dorris—with whom she had remained in touch—attended a reading of Erdrich’s poetry there and was impressed.
Kurup elucidates Erdrich's historical context, thematic concerns, and literary strategies through close readings, offering an introductory approach to Erdrich and revealing several entry points for further investigation.
Kurup asserts that Erdrich's writing has emerged not out of a postcolonial identity but from the ongoing condition of colonization faced by Native Americans in the United States, which is manifested in the very real and contemporary struggle for sovereignty and basic civil rights.
Erdrich’s novels (2004) encompass the stories of three interrelated families living in and around a reservation in the fictional town of Argus, North Dakota, from 1912 through the present.
The novels have been compared to those of William Faulkner, mainly due to the multi-voice narration and non-chronological storytelling which he employed in works such as Erdrich’s works, linked by recurring characters who are victims of fate and the patterns set by their elders, are structured like intricate puzzles in which bits of information about individuals and their relations to one another are slowly released in a seemingly random order, until three-dimensional characters—with a future and a past—are revealed.
She began to move from poetry to fiction in 1980, when she became conscious of the narrative elements at work in her poems.” There is some cross-over in between the novels and poetry: the poem “A Love Medicine” explores similar themes to Erdrich’s first novel, (1989), takes its title from an obscure tenet of the Catholic Church.
The book itself concerns spirituality and the hybrid form of religion, with Roman Catholic and Native values mingling but also conflicting, that Erdrich grew up practicing.
A writer himself—Dorris would later publish the best-selling novel —he decided then that he was interested in working with Erdrich.
Though Dorris left for New Zealand to do field research while Erdrich moved to Boston, the two began collaborating on short stories, including one titled “The World’s Greatest Fisherman.” When this story won five thousand dollars in the Nelson Algren fiction competition, Erdrich and Dorris decided to expand it into a novel—center on the conflict between Native and non-Native cultures, but they also celebrate family bonds and the ties of kinship, offer autobiographical meditations, dramatic monologues and love poetry, as well as showing the influence of Ojibwa myths and legends.