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Spend February reading Louise Erdrich’s pandemic novel of grief and ghosts

Erdrich, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2021, is the Vox Book Club’s latest guest.

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A picture of the cover of the novel “The Sentence” beside a picture of author Louise Erdrich.
The Sentence by Louise Erdrich.
Left, PC Jenn Ackerman. Right, Harper.
Constance Grady is a senior correspondent on the Culture team for Vox, where since 2016 she has covered books, publishing, gender, celebrity analysis, and theater.

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We’re now far enough into the pandemic that the first wave of pandemic novels have come out, and if we’re being completely honest, most of them are bad. They’re too boring, or too simple, or too cruel, or they go on about sourdough too much, or they cheerfully announce that the whole thing ended in May 2021 and by now everything is back to normal. No thank you!

The only good pandemic novel I have come across so far is The Sentence by Louise Erdrich, who won the Pulitzer in 2021. That’s why The Sentence is also the Vox Book Club’s pick for February.

The Sentence tells the story of an Indigenous woman named Tookie who works at an independent bookstore in Minneapolis specializing in books by Indigenous writers. Tookie is happy to keep working at the store when lockdown comes, since it keeps her busy. But she’s a little disconcerted to realize that the store seems to be haunted — specifically, that it seems to be haunted by an old customer.

There’s a lot here about death and grief and ghosts, about America’s sins of past and present, about why books matter and how they can help us all grieve together as we make our way through this time. I look forward to talking through it all together with you.

Join the Vox Book Club as we spend February exploring the world of The Sentence. Then, at the end of the month, we’ll be meeting Erdrich live on Zoom, and you can RSVP here. In the meantime, subscribe to the Vox Book Club newsletter to make sure you don’t miss anything.

The full Vox Book Club schedule for February 2022

Friday, February 11: Discussion post on The Sentence published to

Thursday, February 24, 5 pm ET: Virtual live event with author Louise Erdrich. Reader questions are encouraged!