2015 Lifetime Achievement Award for the Writing of Fiction
Louise Erdrich is author of the critically acclaimed novels "Love Medicine," "The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse," "The Plague of Doves" and her current novel, "The Round House.”
According to Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, "Throughout a remarkable string of virtuosic novels, Louise Erdrich has portrayed her fellow Native Americans as no contemporary American novelist ever has, exploring—in intimate and fearless ways—the myriad cultural challenges that indigenous and mixed-race Americans face. In this, her prose manages to be at once lyrical and gritty, magical yet unsentimental, connecting a dreamworld of Ojibwe legend to stark realities of the modern-day. And yet, for all the bracing originality of her work, her fiction is deeply rooted in the American literary tradition.” Billington chose Erdrich based on the recommendation of a panel of distinguished authors and prominent literary critics.
Erdrich’s career spans more than 30 years. She has written 14 novels, starting with "Love Medicine" (1984). She has received the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. In addition to awards for her individual works, Erdrich is also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in the Creative Arts (1985), a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas (2000) and the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction (2014). Much of Erdrich’s writing focuses on Native American history and culture.
Born in Little Falls, Minn., in 1954, Karen Louise Erdrich was the first of seven children raised in Wahpeton, N.D., by a German-American father and a mother who is half French-American, half Ojibwe.
From 1972 to 1976, Erdrich studied English at Dartmouth College and was a member of its first co-ed class. In 1979, Erdrich earned a master of arts degree in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University. She returned to Dartmouth in 2009 to receive an honorary doctorate in letters and to deliver the commencement address.