Marie’s Reading: “Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead” by Olga Tokarczuk

plowWhat gorgeous, lyrical writing!  Toss in a delightfully eccentric and unreliable narrator and you’ve got an absorbing read.

Janina lives alone in a remote Polish village.  She’s a winter caretaker for the seasonal homes of summer people.  Most of her time is spent working on her astrology, and teaching village kids English.  She is passionate about Animals and their rights, and she has few friends.

Then, one by one, influential men in her neighborhood start dying under mysterious circumstances.  One thing they all have in common is that they’re all hunters.  Janina is convinced that their deaths are revenge visited by Animals.  She’s already got a reputation as the local crazy lady (there are some inferences about something that might have happened connected to dogs she used to have), and when she starts trying to convince the local police that Animals are responsible, her reputation gets worse.

There are some truly beautiful passages, these descriptions are so evocative and detailed.  There’s a lot of allusion, too, particularly to William Blake.It’s a dark story, but it’s also blackly funny.  And, truly, it’s hard not to agree with Janina’s sharp criticisms of the way our world is, and how we treat Animals and each other.

This is one to try if you liked Diane Setterfield’s atmospheric books, Sara Baume’s Spill, Simmer, Falter, Wither or  Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett, 

–Marie

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