Perma Red: Florence White Elk

[Louise] could see the green edge of the Flathead River in the near distance. The water looked thin. She could see the chalky slump of hills that crowned the banks, the tall pine trees that shadowed the water. All this time, she thought, she had been talking to her grandmother, and her sister was in the river. (180)

Earling, Debra Magpie. Perma Red. New York: BlueHen Books, 2002.

About the Book

Perma Red

Perma Red, published in 2002, received the Western Writers Association Spur Award for Best Novel of the West, the Mountain and Plains Bookseller Association Award, and the American Book Award. The novel was chosen by Barnes and Noble as part of its “Discover Great New Writers” series.

Earling began writing Perma Red in 1984. It was rewritten nine times and edited from 800 to 288 pages. One version of the manuscript was lost in a house fire. Still, Earling persevered and the book went on to be a remarkable success.

While the settings in Perma Red are clearly drawn from actual locales, it is understood that the novel—including its places—is ultimately the product of the author’s imagination. The intent of this literary map is to enrich the reading experience by interpreting those places, not to render them literally or definitively.

About the Author

Debra Magpie Earling

Debra Magpie Earling was born in Spokane, Washington, and grew up in western Montana. She is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation. In 1986 she graduated from the University of Washington magna cum laude. She received her MA in English and Fine Arts from Cornell University, and now teaches creative writing at the University of Montana. Earling’s Lost Journals of Sacajewea—a collaboration with master printer Peter Koch—was published in 2010.