The Seed Keeper
A Literary Hub “Most Anticipated Book of 2021”
A Bustle “Most Anticipated Debut Novel of 2021”
A Thrillist “Best New Book of 2021”
A Books Are Magic “Most Anticipated Book of 2021”
Named a “Most Anticipated Book of 2021” by The Millions
A Minneapolis Star Tribune “Book to Look Forward to in 2021”
A haunting novel spanning several generations, The Seed Keeper follows a Dakota family’s struggle to preserve their way of life, and their sacrifices to protect what matters most.
Rosalie Iron Wing 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, in 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, finding solace in her garden even as the farm is threatened first by drought and then by a predatory chemical company. Now, grieving, Rosalie begins to confront the past, on a search for family, identity, and a community where she can finally belong. In the process, she learns what it means to be descended from women with souls of iron—women who have protected their families, their traditions, and a precious cache of seeds through generations of hardship and loss, through war and the insidious trauma of boarding schools.
Weaving together the voices of four indelible women, The Seed Keeper is a beautifully told story of reawakening, of remembering our original relationship to the seeds and, through them, to our ancestors.
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Praise and Prizes
"Through the voices of . . . women from past and present, Wilson deepens the reader's understanding of what loss of language and culture has done to Indigenous people. In depicting the way Rosalie's ancestor Marie Blackbird and other women sew seeds into their clothing as the war breaks out, Wilson shows these women's relationship to and reverence for the land: a sharp contrast to 'a country that destroys its soil,' using methods of modern agriculture and its effects upon waterways. A thought-provoking and engaging read."
"Uprooted from their land, the seeds Dakhóta women carried with them were not just a source of sustenance, but their link to the past and hope for the future, a symbol of their profound bond with the Earth. They provide a powerful symbol for Rosalie’s rediscovery of her lost family and the ways of 'the old ones.' A thoughtful, moving meditation on connections to the past and the land that humans abandon at their peril."
“Through its examination of the protagonist's life in the foster care system, The Seed Keeper confronts the legacy of American Indian genocide and sets Diane Wilson apart as a rising star.”
“[The Seed Keeper] tells the story of Rosalie Iron Wing, a Dakota woman who, after surviving the foster care system to make a life of her own in the world, must confront the harsh realities—climate change, capitalism—of contemporary farming life. In looking to her past for answers Rosalie finds unexpected communion with her ancestors, the women—strong, resilient, proud—who made her who she is.”
“After her father doesn’t return from checking his traps near their home, Rosalie Iron Wing, a Dakota girl who’s grown up surrounded by the woods and stories of plants, is sent to live with a foster family. Decades later, widowed and grieving, she returns to her childhood home to confront the past and find identity and community—and a cache of seeds, passed down from one generation of women to the next.”
“A moving, resonant song of remembrance, lineage, womanhood, kinship, loss, and land.”
“With compelling characters and images that linger long after the final page is turned, The Seed Keeper invokes the strength that women, land, and plants have shared with one another through the generations.”
“A gracefully told story of continuity through seeds saved and nurtured by Dakota women, The Seed Keeper is lush and sustaining—a read that feeds heart and spirit in the same way as do the gardens that are their legacy.”
“Told through the voices of strong, albeit fractured, women across generations, The Seed Keeper is a novel about legacies, generational trauma, and the inescapable call of one’s roots . . . With a focus on women who carry the scars of the past alongside hope for the future, The Seed Keeper is a profound novel about resilience and rebirth.”
“[Diane Wilson] has lured us in with her upcoming novel about generations of Dakota women tasked with preserving their culture's traditions, namely a cache of seeds, against nasty and unscrupulous threats from the modern world.”
“In her remarkable first novel, Diane Wilson braids history and fiction, offering a heartbreaking yet hopeful story of the Dakota women who protected their family seeds for future generations. The Seed Keeper is both a prayer and a powerful invitation for all of us to fall back in love with the earth.”
“Wisdom, humor, truth, marriage, history, child-rearing, environmental advocacy, overcoming obstacles, tears: [The Seed Keeper] has it all, told in a compelling and poignant way.”
“In [Wilson’s] first novel, the writing sings in compact, careful sentences, lending a timelessness to the narrative and making it clear that this compelling story is not just about these characters but also about culture, landscape and how we can—and often cannot—understand each other. Haunting and beautiful, the seeds and words of this novel will find their way into your world, however far from the Dakhóta lands that might be.”