In February 2015, we welcomed David Treuer back to Minnesota for a reading of his novel Prudence.
In this episode, David discusses the origins of his novel – from a stray line in a Hemingway biography to a German prisoner of war camp near Leech Lake Reservation – and takes questions about his characters, the Ojibwe language, and a book’s conscious and unconscious “ancestors.”
On a sweltering day in August 1942, Frankie Washburn returns to his family’s rustic Minnesota resort for one last visit before he joins the war. Awaiting him are his hovering mother, his distant father, the Indian caretaker who’s been more of a father to him than his own, and Billy, the childhood friend who has become something much more intimate. But before the homecoming can be celebrated, the search for a German soldier, escaped from the POW camp across the river, explodes in a shocking act of violence, with consequences that will shape how each of them makes sense of their lives.
Prudence is a story of desire, loss, and the search for connection in a riven world; of race and class in a supposedly more innocent era. It’s about the secrets we choose to keep, the ones we can’t help telling, and whom – and how – we’re supposed to love.