When Louise Erdrich and her husband, Michael Dorris, first sent Love Medicine to publishers, they received nothing but polite rejections. Finally, Dorris decided to promote the book himself and was successful. Holt published the book in 1983, and it became an immediate best seller. Critics applaud Erdrich's wit, tenderness, and powerful style of writing. They particularly like the manner in which Erdrich creates the Native American voice through the form of a traditional Chippewa story cycle. Her characters tell their own stories. In Love Medicine, seven characters from two families present fourteen stories about themselves and their relationships. Readers, especially Native Americans, appreciate her realistic portrayal of Native American life. The book has translations in eighteen languages and has received enthusiastic readerships through the Book-of-the-Month and Quality Paperback Book Clubs. In addition, television producers have discussed the possibilities of made-for-television serials as well as movies.
Love Medicine has won many awards for Erdrich's ability to demonstrate the differences among individuals within the sameness of their culture. While each of the characters reveals his or her personality, the distinct ties between the characters and their culture are obvious. For example, Nector, the iconic Indian whose portrait has hung in the state capital, leads the same personal life led by men of lesser stature. He carries on an affair, has a failed marriage, and lives out his final days in a state of near oblivion. The theme of generational connections holds strongly throughout the novel.