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Census Hardcover – Illustrated, March 6, 2018

3.8 out of 5 stars 61 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“[Ball’s] most personal and best to date... [A] point — about the beautiful varieties of perception, of experience — made without sentimentality, burns at the core of the book, and of much of Ball’s work, which rails against the tedium of consensus, the cruelty of conformity.” (New York Times)

Census is a vital testament to selfless love; a psalm to commonplace miracles; and a mysterious evolving metaphor.  So kind, it aches.” (David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas)

“If there’s a refrain running through [Ball’s] large body of work, it’s that compassion, kindness and empathy trump rules and authority of any kind...this damning but achingly tender novel holds open a space for human redemption, never mind that we have built our systems against it.” (Los Angeles Times)

“With echoes of Paul Auster and Cormac McCarthy, Jesse Ball’s road novel is anything but traditional. The prolific, award-winning author tells the story of a father and his son who has Down syndrome, bringing out their connection in luminous and unexpected ways.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“Strange and wonderful ... A melancholy and grief-filled book, Census also serves a healthy helping of compassion. I highly recommend it for fans of Paul Auster and Samantha Hunt.” (LitHub)

“Ball is too smart… to rely on cheap tricks of sentimentality...the result is an understated feat.” (Washington Post)

“Ball writes dystopia and fabulism with a hushed, poetic grace; as with his other work, Census promises to be beautifully and precisely wrought.” (AV Club)

“Emotionally riveting and shot through with the most pressing issues of our time, Ball’s exploration of humanity in modern America is not to be missed.” (Popsugar)

“[Ball is] a writer of an elegantly poetic bent… Explore with Ball, fall into his quirky rhythms, and you’ll discover a burning plea for empathy. It will break your heart.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“Ball’s poignant dedication to his late older brother Adam, who had Down syndrome, adds yet another layer of complexity to this surreal and powerful story....grounded by the most enduring theme of familial love.”
(Esquire)

From the Back Cover

When a widower receives the devastating news that he doesn’t have long to live, he is struck by the question of who will care for his adult son—a son whom he fiercely loves, a boy with Down syndrome. With no recourse in mind, and with a desire to see the country on one last trip, the man signs up as a census taker for a mysterious governmental bureau and leaves town with his son.

Traveling north, farther into the country, through a tapestry of towns named only by ascending letters of the alphabet, the man and his son encounter a wide range of human experience. While some townspeople welcome the pair into their homes, others, who bear the physical brand of past censuses on their ribs, are wary of their presence. Toward the edges of civilization, the landscape grows wilder and the towns grow farther apart and more blighted by industrial decay. As they approach Z, the man must confront a series of questions: What is the purpose of the census? Is he complicit in its mission? And just how will he learn to say goodbye to his son?

Wrenching and beautiful, Census is a novel about free will, grief, the power of memory, and the ferocity of parental love. It is also an indictment of the cruelties of our society by a major writer.


Product details

  • Publisher : Ecco; Illustrated edition (March 6, 2018)
  • Language : English
  • Hardcover : 272 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 006267613X
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0062676139
  • Item Weight : 13.6 ounces
  • Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.93 x 8.25 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    3.8 out of 5 stars 61 ratings

Customer reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5
61 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on March 29, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on March 20, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on May 17, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on April 5, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on May 8, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on September 27, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on May 30, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on July 4, 2019
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Top reviews from other countries

Jackie Chard
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult read with thoughtful reflection but a loosely connected story line.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 6, 2019
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AJ
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth your time
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 5, 2019
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