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The Sentence

Women's Prize for Fiction, 2022

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781472156990

Price: £20

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In this stunning and timely novel, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich creates a wickedly funny ghost story, a tale of passion, of a complex marriage and of a woman’s relentless errors.

Louise Erdrich’s latest novel, The Sentence, asks what we owe to the living, the dead, to the reader and to the book. A small independent bookstore in Minneapolis is haunted from November 2019 to November 2020 by the store’s most annoying customer. Flora dies on All Souls’ Day, but she simply won’t leave the store. Tookie, who has landed a job selling books after years of incarceration that she survived by reading ‘with murderous attention,’ must solve the mystery of this haunting while at the same time trying to understand all that occurs in Minneapolis during a year of grief, astonishment, isolation and furious reckoning.

The Sentence begins on All Souls’ Day 2019 and ends on All Souls’ Day 2020. Its mystery and proliferating ghost stories during this one year propel a narrative as rich, emotional and profound as anything Louise Erdrich has written.


‘Erdrich is one of the greatest living American writers Guardian

‘Strange, enchanting and funny: a work about motherhood, doom, regret and the magic – dark, benevolent and every shade in between – of words on paper’ New York Times

‘The poet laureate of the contemporary Native American experience’ Mail on Sunday


'Literature lovers will savour the conversations between booksellers and their customers...Erdrich depicts white privilege while at the same time confirming identity politics is never straightforward'
Literary Review
[A] powerful, endearing novel
Erica Wagner, Guardian
The poet laureate of the contemporary Native American experience
Mail on Sunday
Erdrich is one of the greatest living American writers
Words still offer solace in this richly layered novel by Erdrich
Daily Mail Must Reads
'[Tookie's] journey, captured in Erdrich's expert prose, is a cathartic and comforting story that book lovers will gobble up'
Real Simple
'Erdrich's exploration of racial appropriation, and her treatment of such forgery as the stuff of horror, is fascinating. Tookie feels the ghost of Flora breathing in her ear - "let me in" - and at one point, trying to claw her way inside Tookie's body'
Louise Erdrich is the rarest kind of writer, as compassionate as she is sharp-sighted
Anne Tyler
'Strange, enchanting and funny: a work about motherhood, doom, regret and the magic - dark, benevolent and every shade in between - of words on paper'
The New York Times
Scintillating . . . More than a gripping ghost story, The Sentence offers profound insights into the effects of the global pandemic and the collateral damage of systemic racism. It adds up to one of Erdrich's most . . . illuminating works to date
Publishers Weekly (Starred review)
Masterfully written... tackle[s] [a] serious subject matter but also deliver[s] witty writing that makes you laugh out loud
'A delight, a thought-provoking work of art'
The Independent
A novel that reckons with ghosts - of both specific people but also the shadows resulting from America's violent, dark habits
Kirkus (starred review)
'Erdrich writes with conviction'
The real and the supernatural lock eyes in the deeply layered, immersive novel
Irish Times
[A[ powerful, endearing novel . . . [The Sentence] resolves in small moments of personal redemption and familial love, allowing for hope amid tragedy
Erica Wagner, Guardian
'The story is, perhaps above all, about the peace available to us in books like this'
The New Yorker
'Promises to be both funny and profound'
Daily Mail
No one can break your heart and fill it with light all in the same book - sometimes in the same paragraph - quite like Louise Erdrich
Tampa Bay Times
'As the owner of a store herself, Erdrich knows whereof she writes, and her off-beat ghost story is in part a love letter to books and the shops that sell them. It also captures with compelling fidelity a year of personal and national dread and anguish - yet still pulls off a happy ending'
Daily Mail