"The Seed Keeper" by Diane Wilson, winner of the 2022 Minnesota Book Award in Fiction, is the 2023 One Book, One Community read for Hutchinson.
Milkweed Editions, publisher of "The Seed Keeper," describes the book as "a haunting novel spanning several generations. It follows a Dakota family’s struggle to preserve their way of life, and their sacrifices to protect what matters most."
The protagonist is Rosalie Iron Wing has who has grown up in the woods with her father, Ray, a former science teacher who tells her stories of plants, of the stars, of the origins of the Dakota people. Until, one morning, Ray doesn’t return from checking his traps. Told she has no family, Rosalie is sent to live with a foster family in nearby Mankato — where the reserved, bookish teenager meets rebellious Gaby Makespeace. The two young women form a friendship that transcends the damaged legacies they’ve inherited.
On a winter’s day many years later, Rosalie returns to her childhood home. A widow and mother, she has spent the previous two decades on her white husband’s farm. Now, grieving, Rosalie begins to confront the past, on a search for family, identity, and a community where she can finally belong.
Diane Wilson, author of "The Seed Keeper," is a writer, speaker, and educator, who has published four award-winning books, as well as essays in numerous publications. Her novel, "The Seed Keeper," was published by Milkweed Editions in March 2021. She is the former executive director for Dream of Wild Health, an Indigenous nonprofit farm, and the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance, a national coalition of tribes and organizations working to create sovereign food systems for Native people. Wilson is a Mdewakanton descendent, enrolled on the Rosebud Reservation.
Wilson has received a 2013 Bush Foundation Fellowship, as well as grant awards from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Jerome Foundation, and a 50 Over 50 Award from Pollen/Midwest.
WHY THIS BOOK?
According to Mary Henke, chair of the One Book, One Community committee, the first time she read "The Seed Keeper," she found it a wonderful, deeply moving novel and thought that it would be a possible choice for the community book read.
"When I was hearing positive feedback from others, I was more certain," Henke said. "In a balanced approach, it is the story of a Dakota woman's search to reconnect with her ancestors' bond with the land and its nurturing support through food and medicine. There are many topics for readers to consider and discuss during the winter months with friends, family and the community."
Katy Hiltner, head librarian of the Hutchinson Public Library, said "The Seed Keeper" quickly became a "buzz" book after winning the 2022 Minnesota Book Award for Fiction.
"It will only take a chapter or two before readers will understand why her book has received such high praise," Hiltner said "Not only is 'The Seed Keeper' a wonderfully written book, the compelling story will generate much reflection and discussion."
John Hassinger and Jeanne Langdon, both longtime One Book, One Community committee members, liked the book, too.
"It is thought provoking as it explores family, traditions and our relationship to our environment and family," Hassinger said.
"I loved reading this well-written book," she said. "I think it's important that we learn more about Indiginous people, their culture and their history."
ABOUT ONE BOOK, ONE COMMUNITY
Hutchinson's One Book, One Community read was launched in January 2014, with the selection of "The Orphan Train" by Christina Baker Kline.
The idea for the community read came from Heart of Hutch's Connect Wholeheartedly committee, which encouraged connecting with other people to build stronger relationships.
One way to do this is through reading. If everyone is reading the same book, it provides a basis for shared discussion. The idea's roots date to "If All of Seattle Read the Same Book," started by Nancy Pearl in 1998 at Seattle Public Library's Washington Center for the Book. Their first selection was "The Sweet Hereafter" by Russell Banks.
Since its inception, the local committee's goal has been to select a variety of books that will appeal to the interests of local readers.
"Together, we've read novels, adventure stories, a memoir, and nonfiction," Henke said in an earlier Leader interview. "Feedback we've received lets us know how much readers have enjoyed books with a Minnesota connection."
Past Hutchinson One Book, One Community selections have included:
- 2014: "The Orphan Train" by Christina Baker Kline
- 2015: "Canoeing with the Cree" by Eric Sevareid
- 2016: "Ordinary Grace" by William Kent Krueger
- 2017: "Under a Flaming Sky: The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894" by Daniel James Brown
- 2018: "The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father" by Kao Kalia Yang
- 2019: “The Life We Bury" by Allen Esken
- 2020: "Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod" by Gary Paulsen
- 2021: "This Tender Land" by William Kent Krueger
Each year, the OBOC committee announces its selection prior to Thanksgiving. The timing is to give people an opportunity to purchase the book for seasonal gift giving.
"The Seed Keeper" is available for purchase at the Hutchinson Center for the Arts, 15 Franklin St. S.W. and The Village Shop, 114 Main St. S., both in Hutchinson.
Copies of the book are available to borrow at the Hutchinson Public Library, 50 Hassan St. S.E. The library will also have a book club kit for "The Seed Keeper" available for local book clubs. For more information, call Katy Hiltner, head librarian, at 320-587-2368.
At press time, the schedule of events had not been formalized, so check back with the Leader for more information.