Drive your Plow over the Bones of the Dead

Paperback, 274 pages

Published Oct. 18, 2019 by Fitzcarraldo Editions.

ISBN:
978-1-913097-25-7
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4 stars (43 reviews)

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?

12 editions

Idiosyncratic and eccentric

4 stars

While I was intrigued by this novel from the very beginning, I ultimately felt that it took me rather too long to get into what was really going on in Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead. I should probably have reread the synopsis before starting the book so I didn't pick up on the earliest clues until they were revealed very late on. Instead I went into the story as if it were more slice-of-life fiction, exploring this remote Polish hamlet alongside Mrs Duszejko in her regular round as caretaker for the majority of the houses left unoccupied through the bitter winter. I loved Olga Tokarczuk's depictions of this rural environment with its deep forest and the perpetually impassable roads.

Mrs Duszejko (I shan't call her Janina!) is a wonderful character with whom I could strongly sympathise and empathise. Her idiosyncratic capitalising of certain proper nouns gave …

Review of 'Sobre os Ossos dos Mortos' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Left any possible spoiler content to the past paragraph. so you can stop before then.

Tokarczuk novel starts off with a loud knock on the door, a visitor, and in a hurried shuffle the discovery of a neighbours body in his home: a local hermit, poacher, and dog abuser whom our protagonist has a distinct dislike of. From there a interesting murder mystery unfolds exploring the relationships between a small community bordering the Czech Republic in Poland and the human and animal relations.

Our protagonist from the begin presents as an unreliable narrator, an elderly vegetarian woman with poor social skills, a strange naming convention for people in her life, an almost fanatical devotion to Astrology, and a passion for William Blakes Poetry which the novel derives its title from. I found myself both sympathetic to her and at odds with her stories, as we see the world through her …

Review of 'Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

"Oh yes, the human body is most definitely inhuman, especially a dead one."

Maybe I'm not smart enough for literary fiction in some cases, but this just felt boring and tedious. Janina is an elderly Polish woman who loves her astrology and animals, and quickly becomes irritated with people who don't share her extremely inflexible morals where killing (for sport, for food, for necessity) is concerned. When neighbors and villagers start turning up dead under mysterious (and sometimes violent) circumstances, Janina thinks she has it all figured out, but nobody listens to the crazy hermit who lives out in the woods.

The book's written in a stream of consciousness style through Janina's eyes, so there's entire sections of the book that really don't relate to anything. She's a bit of an oddball, sends polite registered letters to the local cops asking them to check with their force's astrologer about the …

Review of 'Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

I had mixed feelings about this book. It felt aimless through most of it, so it was a challenge to keep reading through the middle. I think most people probably guess the twist at the end way before it happens. I actually wish the details of how she did everything weren’t narrated, I didn’t need that. I’m also not sure if I buy that these friends would all help her escape

Review of 'Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Fun novel. I can't say it blew me away but the voice of the protagonist was entertaining. The use of Blake's poetry was evocative and I'm sure there is much to say here about the marriage of heaven and hell but I am not up enough of my Blake scholarship to make very many connections.

Review of 'Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead' on 'GoodReads'

5 stars

Tokarczuk cleverly disguises a story about obsession, singular ideas, patriarchy, grief and Anger inside a funny and touching narrative of rural life in Poland, near the Czech border. The narrator, Mrs. Duszejko, is a frail old woman, derided and belittled by her neighbours as she launches tirades about the evils of hunting. Her neighbours cannot understand her point of view and choose to ignore it in most cases. When the animals seem to be rising up and murdering people in the night, her Astrology-inspired theories begin to hold sway.

The book is frighteningly perfect in its dark humour, and the execution is flawless.

Review of 'Drive your Plow over the Bones of the Dead' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Ich war zwischendrin versucht, fünf Sterne zu vergeben, schon weil die Geschichte aus einer (zumindest für meine Leseverhältnisse) sehr seltenen Perspektive erzählt wird, nämlich von einer astrologiegläubigen alten Frau. Was ich auch immer sehr zu schätzen weiß, ist die späte Darreichung von Informationen, die schlechtere Autorinnen auf den ersten beiden Seiten untergebracht hätten. Den Schluss im "ich habe euch alle hier in der Bibliothek versammelt"-Stil fand ich dann aber ein bisschen zu glatt.

Review of 'Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

4.5 stars

A compelling story and intriguing story about injustice, animal rights, feminism, corruption and hypocrisy, especially in traditional religion. Tokarczuk writing is distinctive and original, dark and witty, and Antonia Lloyd-Jones has done a remarkable job in capturing the sensitive and melancholic prose in the English translation.

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