Erdrich is an American Indian who is with Sherman Alexis, a great voice of the recent Indian literature; her writing aims to revive or rediscover tribal memory and also the myths of a torn community, which in her case are the North Eastern Indians of New England who are tied to some tribes of the middle West, the Shawana and the Ashinanbego. She does not sound at all like an anthropologist thank God, since her characters are usually leading normal American lives in towns or suburbs , fully integrated and rarely living on reservations , but they are very special people.
You would never guess that Faye Travers , the narrator of this novel, is an Indian; she lives with her mother in a small town of New Hampshire and , sells and buys Antiques and describes her own social class rather ironically, as "'the intelligentsia" amongst the rough farmers and assorted red necks of her village,with whom she gets along but otherwise does not trust. Let me add that she lives on" Revival road " which is an evident sign of her destiny . So, while analyzing the effects of a local estate, she finds an Indian painted drum that she recognizes immediately as sacred object of a now defunct rite; on impulse she takes it home to show her mother and they decide to find through research and archives the Indian family which should possibly be owner of this drum. The story that Erdrich will tell is the voyage through time of this drum seen as a sort of famous Crucifix or relic holding great spiritual power. Now, it is neither a silly nor a boring tale, it is rather a painful descent in the sorrowful past of so many Indians who lost their culture and their identity in modern America , but it is also a revival of this recent past
Erdrich is like J.M.Le Clézio, the French Nobel Prize writer(2008) ,who is mainly inspired by the universe of non western cultures, where the beauty of the world and its rhythm is sought and the fear of the elements is shared. Wind and Light are important as are plants and animals ; the natural , so present in America as in Africa, is celebrated an a lyrical manner and men are seen as mere servants of this powerful universe. Erdrich is not an animist and is not an urban writer either ; she has a poetical streak and makes us enter this spiritual world of the Indian way of life which still existed at the turn of the century apparently and is still kept faithfully in family sagas. Ancient Indians resurrected in her tale are gardeners, hunters , gatherers, theyknow animals and mountains , follow the seasons and do not have a culture of the word.They reach a form of ecstasy borne out of contemplation like the Airicans of Le Clézio :the natural beauty of the world is theirs and this writer is their singer and a rare author in Ameican letters.