Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

paperback, 274 pages

Published Oct. 18, 2019 by Fitzcarraldo Editions.


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4 stars (1 review)

In a remote Polish village, Janina devotes the dark winter days to studying astrology, translating the poetry of William Blake, and taking care of the summer homes of wealthy Warsaw residents. Her reputation as a crank and a recluse is amplified by her not-so-secret preference for the company of animals over humans. Then a neighbor, Big Foot, turns up dead. Soon other bodies are discovered, in increasingly strange circumstances. As suspicions mount, Janina inserts herself into the investigation, certain that she knows whodunit. If only anyone would pay her mind . . .

A deeply satisfying thriller cum fairy tale, Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead is a provocative exploration of the murky borderland between sanity and madness, justice and tradition, autonomy and fate. Whom do we deem sane? it asks. Who is worthy of a voice?

6 editions

A clever parable for our times

4 stars

The back of the book said it's a thriller but even thought the narrative revolves around a murder mystery, what was really captivating about this tale is the main character. There is nothing truly like her: A vegetarian old lady, a weirdo that never ceases to surprise the reader by exposing new, strange, sides to her. It with the force of this magnetic leading persona that Tokarczuk - like Yuki Urushibara, Monica Bryne and a few other writers of our times - succeeds in discussing one of the main issues of our time - namely, man's relation to nature and the harm he inflicts on it. It is done in a tone that is just the right amount of preachy and somber, but is also humorous and light at times. Brilliant piece.

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