Friday, September 18, 2020

Literary Sewing Circle: The Night Watchman

Fall has arrived, and with it our new round of the Literary Sewing Circle. I'm so thrilled to announce our new title for our group read is:

The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich


Based on the extraordinary life of National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich’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.

Thomas Wazhashk is the night watchman at the jewel bearing plant, the first factory located near the Turtle Mountain Reservation in rural North Dakota. He is also 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 Indians. 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.

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.

(via publisher)

photo by Alessio Jacona

About Louise Erdrich:

Louise Erdrich is an American author, writer of novels, poetry, and children's books featuring Native American characters and settings. She is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, a federally recognized tribe of the Anishinaabe (also known as Ojibwe and Chippewa).

Erdrich is widely acclaimed as one of the most significant writers of the second wave of the Native American Renaissance. In 1982, Erdrich's story, "The World's Greatest Fisherman," won $5,000 in the Nelson Algren fiction competition. She expanded the story into the novel Love Medicine (1984), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. It is the only debut novel ever to receive that honor. Erdrich later turned Love Medicine into a tetralogy that includes The Beet Queen (1986), Tracks (1988), and The Bingo Palace (1994). She has written 28 books in all, including fiction, non-fiction, poetry and children's books. Her latest novel, The Night Watchman, was published in 2020 and was inspired by her maternal grandfather's life.

She is also the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore in Minneapolis that focuses on Native American literature and the Native community in the Twin Cities.

(via Wikipedia)

This book is available for purchase in both hard copy and ebook formats, as well as in audiobook format.

You can find many formats at all of these locations:

Book Depository

Chapters Indigo


Barnes and Noble


ABE Books

Or, of course, check your local library!


How does the Literary Sewing Circle work? We read a book together, discuss it, and then make something inspired by our reading. As long as you can point out what inspired you from your reading, even if just a sentence, you can share your makes in our final roundup!

Anyone can join, and you can sew, knit, quilt or embroider - any textile art that you like doing - to participate. This is a reading/sewing circle, very low-key; no competitions here, just reading and sewing for fun. 

There is no official sign-up to worry about; just start reading along if you wish, and leave your thoughts on the book or your project on any of the Literary Sewing Circle posts. We do have a dedicated book discussion post halfway through and again at the end, but leave your thoughts anytime. And you can follow along on Instagram too if you like: look for #LiterarySewingCircle and you'll find us.

And when the final post goes up, so does the project linkup -- you can leave a link to your finished project there, whether it is on your blog, a pattern site, or even Instagram. It's easy :)

So, join in, and share!

Literary Sewing Circle Schedule

Sept 18 - Announcement & Introduction
Sept 25 - Inspiration post 

Oct 2
 - Author feature
Oct 9  
- Halfway mark: book talk
Oct 16
 - Inspiration post
Oct 23
 - Final Post: book discussion wrap up & posting of project linkup

(The project linkup will be live until Nov 15 - three & a bit more weeks - so you have enough time to get your project posted)


  1. That sounds like an interesting novel, and a completely new writer to me 😊 I will go and find her book now.

    1. Oh, I do hope you'll enjoy it! She has a large backlist of wonderful books if you find you like her writing :)

  2. Interestingly, my library has several copies! So on hold. Sounds a bit intriguing. Looking forward to it.

    1. Excellent! I was hoping that would be the case with this newer title.

  3. This sounds like fun. I found the book at my library and put it on hold. 14-weeks for the Audio version! But the print version is readily available so I should have it soon. Thanks for starting this. I feel I need this distraction right now. Not sure what type of clothing I will be motivated to sew from this 1950's era novel, but hopefully something will motivate my imagination.

    1. Watch for our inspiration posts here :) As long as you can explain what inspired you, anything goes! I think there is a lot in this complex story to work with as far as making goes.

  4. Thank you for selecting this book -- it's been on my "to read" list and this is great motivation to actually read it! Looking forward to the discussion.

    1. That's great! I hope you will enjoy reading along and sharing our experiences of this read.

  5. About 5 or 6 chapters in. I had forgotten how seductive her style is.


Share your comments, ideas or suggestions here -- I am always interested in hearing from readers. It's nice to have a conversation!