Future Home of the Living God


Louise Erdrich

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Future Home of the Living God Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Louise Erdrich's Future Home of the Living God. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Louise Erdrich

The daughter of a Native American mother from the Ojibwe tribe and a German-American father, Louise Erdrich grew up as the oldest of seven children in Little Falls, Minnesota. She and her mother’s family are members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, a recognized tribe of which her maternal grandfather was tribal chairman. Erdrich wrote short stories and poetry from a young age, and in 1976 became among the first women to graduate from Dartmouth College. After completing her B.A. in English, she pursued an M.A. in Creative Writing at Johns Hopkins. There, she wrote many stories that took her indigenous heritage as inspiration. Her first novel, Love Medicine, won the National Critics’ Book Circle Award in 1984, and was based on a short story she collaborated to write with her ex-husband, Michael Dorris. Currently, Erdrich lives in Minnesota where she continues to write and runs the Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore that seeks to create space for Native American authors.
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Historical Context of Future Home of the Living God

Erdrich began writing the short story version of this narrative just after George W. Bush’s election in 2000. At the time, Erdrich was deeply concerned about threats to women’s reproductive rights under the Bush administration. She created Cedar’s character because at the time she identified strongly with the concerns of pregnant woman, especially those who may have high-risk pregnancies, as it is implied Cedar has, and may need abortions. While the short story itself is not dystopic, the novel it gave rise to, published in 2016, is. This novel came forth in a similarly divided and emotionally charged political climate, in which Erdrich was concerned about women’s rights and climate change.

Other Books Related to Future Home of the Living God

In 2016, Louise Erdrich published the novel Future Home of the Living God, a dystopic novel set in the near-distant future based on the characters of her 2009 short story with the same name. In it, climate change is out of control, the U.S. is under authoritarian regime, and evolution itself is even reversing. Consequently, pregnant women are rounded up by the government to give birth in controlled conditions. Erdrich wrote the novel in a matter of months, claiming that the political climate of 2016 gave her a sense of urgency to complete a narrative in which “we are moving backwards instead of forwards.” Due to its dystopian treatment of women’s reproductive rights, the novel drew widespread critical comparison to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which was remade as a Hulu show that same year.
Key Facts about Future Home of the Living God
  • Full Title: “Future Home of the Living God”
  • When Written: 2002
  • Where Written: Minnesota
  • When Published: 2009 
  • Literary Period: Contemporary, Postmodern
  • Genre: Short Story, Realistic Fiction, Native American Fiction
  • Setting: Minnesota
  • Climax: Cedar’s adoptive parents arrive at her birth mother’s home, overwhelming her.
  • Antagonist: The desire to be isolated from family
  • Point of View: First-Person and Second-Person

Extra Credit for Future Home of the Living God

Adoption Runs in the Family. Adoption is an important theme both in the short story and in Erdrich’s life. While Erdrich herself is not adopted, she and her ex-husband, Michael Dorris, were parents to his three adopted children. He was the first single man to successfully adopt in the United States.

Close to Home. Erdrich herself was pregnant with her youngest while writing the story for the first time, which is why concerns about pregnant women were so close to her heart.