WINNER OF THE NOBEL PRIZE IN LITERATURE
"A brilliant literary murder mystery." —Chicago Tribune
"Extraordinary. Tokarczuk's novel is funny, vivid, dangerous, and disturbing, and it raises some fierce questions about human behavior. My sincere admiration for her brilliant work." —Annie Proulx
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?
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
A murder mystery, a pitch-black comedy, and a Slavic fairy tale with a shot of feminist wit meld to turn Olga Tokarczuk’s novel into one singularly brilliant creation. Set in a sleepy Polish village in winter, the novel charts the full-time obsessions and part-time sleuthing of Janina Duszejko, an amateur astrologer and William Blake enthusiast whose neighbor is found dead with a deer bone in his mouth. Between the delightfully fascinating meditations on animal rights, the Catholic Church, and human nature, there’s a killer detective story that would make Agatha Christie grin.
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.
Interesting title taken from a Blake passage.
Fantastic mystery blended with folktales and a love for the environment.
Oh, the stuff you’ll learn
Brilliant, funny, surprising. And easier than a Polish vacation.
Fairly obvious if you’re paying attention early on...the author makes a mistake by offering a little too much with one character’s tiny correction. Otherwise, the book is the musings of a stereotypical “crazy old cat lady”; not much insight to be gleaned nor good humor to be found. I enjoyed it mostly for its portrayal of a tucked-away small town and its surrounding outposts on the Czech/Polish border.The translation seems a little uneven sometimes; though I don’t read the native language it was written in, certain lines just come across as oddly translated.