Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead

Olga Tokarczuk, trans. from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. Riverhead, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-0-525-54133-2
Tokarczuk follows her Man Booker International winner Flights with an astounding mystical detective novel. Narrator Janina Duszejko, an English teacher and winter caretaker for a few summer houses in an isolated Polish hamlet near the Czech border, is awakened one night by her neighbor, whom she calls Oddball, who informs her that their neighbor, nicknamed Big Foot, is dead in his house. Before the police arrive, Janina and Oddball find a deer bone in Big Foot’s mouth. Soon another body turns up, and Janina, an avid creator of horoscopes and, more generally, prone to theorizing and ascribing incidents to larger systems, develops a theory that animals are killing the locals. As the body count rises, readers are treated to Janina’s beliefs (“Finally, transformed into tiny quivering photons, each of our deeds will set off into Outer Space, where the planets will keep watching it like a film until the end of the world”), descriptions (a body is “a troublesome piece of luggage”), and observations (flowers in a garden “are neat and tidy, standing straight and slender, as if they’d been to the gym”). Tokarczuk’s novel succeeds as both a suspenseful murder mystery and a powerful and profound meditation on human existence and how a life fits into the world around it. Novels this thrilling don’t come along very often. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 05/14/2019
Release date: 08/13/2019
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 978-0-525-54135-6
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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