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Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead: A Novel Paperback – August 11, 2020

4.2 out of 5 stars 4,046 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of August 2019: Janina Duszejko, the book’s solitary, 60-something main character, is earnest bordering on kooky. She writes long, unanswered letters to the police department about animal rights issues. (Hunting is popular in the remote Polish village where she lives and cares for part-time residents’ summer houses.) When she’s not preparing simple meals for herself and a former student with whom she translates William Blake on Friday nights, she’s weathering her ”Ailments” or looking for correlations between what’s on TV and the configuration of “the Planets.” Thinking that names don’t match the person (including her own), she refers to those around her by their defining characteristics: Oddball, Bigfoot, Dizzy, Good News. And it’s through her eyes that we watch the body count rise in this most unusual literary murder mystery.

The book opens with a widely disliked neighbor found dead in his home. As more local figures are murdered, Janina develops a peculiar theory that brings her closer and closer to the truth. Between the indelible first-person voice and the pitch-perfect translation of author Olga Tokarczuk’s original Polish, it’s easy to forget that this engaging portrait of small town life is also a devilishly well-plotted crime novel. —Katy Ball

Review

Named a best book of 2019 by TIME, NPR, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and BookRiot.

PEN America Translation Prize longlist

Warwick Prize for Women in Translation shortlist


“A marvelously weird and fablelike mystery. . . . Authors with Tokarczuk’s vending machine of phrasing . . . and gimlet eye for human behavior. . . are rarely also masters of pacing and suspense. But even as Tokarczuk sticks landing after landing . . . her asides are never desultory or a liability. They are more like little cuts — quick, exacting and purposefully belated in their bleeding. . . . This book is not a mere whodunit: It’s a philosophical fairy tale about life and death that’s been trying to spill its secrets. Secrets that, if you’ve kept your ear to the ground, you knew in your bones all along.” — New York Times Book Review

“While it adopts the straightforward structure of a murder mystery, [the book features] macabre humor and morbid philosophical interludes [that] are distinctive to its author. . . [and an] excellent payoff at the finale. . . . As for Ms. Tokarczuk, there’s no doubt: She’s a gifted, original writer, and the appearance of her novels in English is a welcome development.” — The Wall Street Journal

“Drive Your Plow is exhilarating in a way that feels fierce and private, almost inarticulable; it’s one of the most existentially refreshing novels I’ve read in a long time.” — The New Yorker

A paean to nature. . . a sort of ode to Blake. . . [and] a lament. . . Does Tokarczuk transcend Blake? Arguable —perhaps.” — NPR
 
“A brilliant literary murder mystery.”  Chicago Tribune

“ A winding, imaginative, genre-defying story. Part murder mystery, part fairy tale, Drive Your Plow is a thrilling philosophical examination of the ways in which some living creatures are privileged above others.” – TIME

“Shimmering with subversive brilliance . . . . this is not your conventional crime story—for Tokarczuk is not your conventional writer. Through her extraordinary talent and intellect, and her ‘thinking novels,’ she ponders and tackles larger ecological and political issues. The stakes are always high; Tokarczuk repeatedly rises to the occasion and raises a call to arms.”—HuffPost 

“Sometimes the opening sentence of a first-person narrative can so vividly capture the personality of its speaker that you immediately want to spend all the time you can in their company. That’s the case with . . . Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead  . . .  [a] barbed and subversive tale about what it takes to challenge the complacency of the powers that be.” —Boston Globe 

“Bewitching. . .. Serious crosscurrents … explore everything from animal rights to predetermination to the way society stigmatizes and marginalizes those it considers mad, strange or simply different . . . Tokarczuk is capable of miracles and ensures that this extraordinary novel soars.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune 

"Sardonic humour and gothic plot-twists add a layer of macabre rustic comedy." – The Economist 
 
"One of the funniest books of the year.” – The Guardian

 “Written with humor, charm, and a great talent for mystery … a sharp, memorable alternative to those dime-a-dozen beach bag potboilers without losing any of the whodunnit appeal.” —Town & Country 


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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Riverhead Books; Reprint edition (August 11, 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 288 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0525541349
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0525541349
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 8 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.2 x 0.74 x 8 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.2 out of 5 stars 4,046 ratings

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Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5
4,046 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on April 21, 2019
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Top reviews from other countries

C.Campbell
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly exceptional
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 14, 2019
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Orest
5.0 out of 5 stars Viva Janina
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 23, 2018
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Ms. P. E. Ennis
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 11, 2018
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Jonathan Talbot
4.0 out of 5 stars Offbeat and enjoyable
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 19, 2019
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CloselyObservedEnglish
2.0 out of 5 stars Rambling
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 5, 2020
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