Louise Erdrich’s Future Home of the Living God: Uncertainty, Proleptic Mourning and Relationality in Native Dystopia

  • Silvia Martínez-Falquina Universidad de Zaragoza


This article examines Louise Erdrich’s latest novel Future Home of the Living God (2017) in the light of the current conversation about the attacks on women’s reproductive rights and the devastating effects of climate change. Erdrich’s speculative novel describes an unspecified future where evolution has reversed itself and human reproduction is under threat, as a response to which a Puritan authoritarian government takes control of women of childbearing age to try to sustain procreation. The article contends that, using the dystopian mode—and more specifically, a theorization of uncertainty as characteristic of the present situation of many people—Erdrich addresses persisting, historical unresolved grief, making current feminist and Native vindications visible. She also continues the challenging of the whitestream idea of progress and the subversion of stereotypes that characterize her oeuvre. Most significantly, the article reads the novel as representative of both Indigenous resurgence and the global transmodern paradigm insofar as it articulates a relational understanding of language and identity as our best hope for the future. The article concludes that Erdrich’s use of the future perfect tense is best interpreted as a ritual of proleptic mourning that connects this novel to Native American literary activism.Keywords: Louise Erdrich; Native dystopia; Native American resurgence; transmodernity; relationality; proleptic mourning

Author Biography

Silvia Martínez-Falquina, Universidad de Zaragoza
Silvia Martínez-Falquina is an Associate Professor of US literature at the University of Zaragoza. Her research focuses primarily on ethnic and gender studies, with a particular emphasis on Native American fiction, about which she has published extensively. She is the editor of Miscelánea: A Journal of English and American Studies (literature, film and cultural studies).


Alderman, Naomi. 2016. The Power. London: Penguin.

Aliaga-Lavrijsen, Jessica and José María Yebra-Pertusa, eds. 2019. Transmodern Perspectives on Contemporary Literatures in English. New York: Routledge.

Ateljevic, Irena. 2013. “Visions of Transmodernity: A New Renaissance of our Human History?” Integral Review 9 (2): 200-19.

Athitakis, Mark. 2017. “Louise Erdrich Channels Margaret Atwood in Dystopian Living God.” Review of Future Home of the Living God, by Louise Erdrich. USA Today, November 14. [Accessed online on November 1, 2018].

Atwood, Margaret. 1985. The Handmaid’s Tale. London: Jonathan Cape.

Atwood, Margaret and Louise Erdrich. 2017. “Inside the Dystopian Visions of Margaret Atwood and Louise Erdrich.” Elle, November 14. [Accessed online on October 30, 2018].

Blaeser, Kimberly M., Maggie Ann Bowers and David Stirrup, eds. 2017. “Native North American Literature and Literary Activism.” Special issue, Wasafiri 90.

Charles, Ron. 2017. “Do we Need another Handmaid’s Tale?” Review of Future Home of the Living God, by Louise Erdrich. The Washington Post, November 13. [Accessed online on November 3, 2018].

Corrigan, Maureen. 2017. “Louise Erdrich Delivers a Dystopian Feminist Thriller in Future Home.” Review of Future Home of the Living God, by Louise Erdrich. NPR, November 14. [Accessed online on November 1, 2018].

Craps, Stef. 2017. “Climate Change and the Art of Anticipatory Memory.” Parallax 23 (4): 479-92.

Currie, Mark. 2013. The Unexpected: Narrative Temporality and the Philosophy of Surprise. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP.

Dillon, Grace L., ed. 2012. Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction. Tucson: The U of Arizona P.

Erdrich, Louise. 1995. The Blue Jay’s Dance. London: Flamingo.

—. 2012. The Round House. New York: HarperCollins.

—. 2017a. Future Home of the Living God. New York: HarperCollins.

—. 2017b. “Interview: Louise Erdrich.” By Christian A. Coleman. Lightspeed: Science Fiction and Fantasy 91 (December).[Accessed online on November 1, 2018].

—. 2017c. “Louise Erdrich Discusses Her New Novel, Future Home of the Living God.” Interview by Bethanne Patrick. Los Angeles Times, November 10. [Accessed online on May 14, 2018].

—. 2017d. “Louise Erdrich’s Facebook Page.” Facebook, August 18. [Accessed online on November 1, 2018].

—. 2017e. “Louise Erdrich: Reproductive Nightmares, Real and Imagined.” Interview by Joanna Demkiewicz. Guernica Magazine, November 20. [Accessed online on November 1, 2018].

—. 2017f. “What Happens When Evolution Stops? Louise Erdrich’s Novel Starts. An Interview.” By Kerri Miller. MPR News, November 15. [Accessed online on November 1, 2018].

Franklin, Benjamin. 1728. “Epitaph.” Founders Online National Archives. [Accessed online on November 3, 2018].

Franklin, Ruth. 2017. “A Timely Novel of Anti-Progress by Louise Erdrich.” Review of Future Home of the Living God, by Louise Erdrich. New York Times, November 21. [Accessed online on November 1, 2018].

Garner, Dwight. 2017. “Shades of Atwood and Vonnegut in Louise Erdrich’s Dystopian Novel.” Review of Future Home of the Living God, by Louise Erdrich. New York Times, November 14. [Accessed online on November 1, 2018].

Latham, Rob, ed. 2017. Science Fiction Criticism: An Anthology of Essential Writings. London: Bloomsbury.

Lepore, Jill. 2017. “A Golden Age for Dystopian Fiction.” New Yorker, June 5 & 12. [Accessed online on November 4, 2018].

Merril, Judith. (1966) 2017. “What Do You Mean? Science? Fiction?” In Latham 2017, 22-36.

Merritt, Stephanie. 2018. “Fertile Ground for Dystopian Nightmares.” Review of Future Home of the Living God, by Louise Erdrich. Guardian, January 7. [Accessed online on November 1, 2018].

Moraru, Christian. 2011. Cosmodernism: American Narrative, Late Globalization, and the New Cultural Imaginary. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P.

Orange, Tommy. 2018. There There. London: Harvill Secker.

Rodríguez Magda, Rosa María. 2004. Transmodernidad. Barcelona: Anthropos.

—. 2019. “The Crossroads of Transmodernity.” Translated by Jessica Aliaga-Lavrijsen. In Aliaga-Lavrijsen and Yebra-Pertusa 2019, 21-29.

—. n.d. Blog personal sobre cuestiones filosóficas y literarias (blog). [Accessed online on June 5, 2019].

Scholes, Lucy. 2017. “Not a Rival to her Previous Novels.” Review of Future Home of the Living God, by Louise Erdrich. Independent, December 27. [Accessed online on November 1, 2018].

Shen King, Maggie. 2017. An Excess Male. Sidney: Harper Voyager.

Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake. 2011. Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence and a New Emergence. Winnipeg: Arp.

—. 2015. “The Misery of Settler Colonialism: Roundtable on Glen Coulthard’s Red Skin, White Masks and Audra Simpson’s Mohawk Interruptus.” Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, October 8. [Accessed online on July 30, 2017].

Vizenor, Gerald. (1978) 1990. Bearheart: The Heirship Chronicles. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P.

Zumas, Leni. 2018. Red Clocks. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company.