Summary and book reviews of Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

by Olga Tokarczuk

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk X
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Published:
    Aug 2019, 288 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Rachel Hullett
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

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 from the winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize for Literature, 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?

I.

Now Pay Attention

Once meek, and in a perilous path,

The just man kept his course along

The vale of death.

I am already at an age and additionally in a state where I must always wash my feet thoroughly before bed, in the event of having to be removed by an ambulance in the Night.

Had I examined the Ephemerides that evening to see what was happening in the sky, I wouldn't have gone to bed at all. Meanwhile I had fallen very fast asleep; I had helped myself with an infusion of hops, and I also took two valerian pills. So when I was woken in the middle of the Night by hammering on the door--violent, immoderate and thus ill-omened--I was unable to come round. I sprang up and stood by the bed, unsteadily, because my sleepy, shaky body couldn't make the leap from the innocence of sleep into wakefulness. I felt weak and began to reel, as if about to lose consciousness. Unfortunately this has been happening to me lately, and has to do with my Ailments. I had to sit down and tell myself several ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!
  • award image

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

A subversive feminist noir mystery set in a remote Polish village, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead both dazzles and defies categorization. Tokarczuk deftly weaves together commentary on the limitations of the body, animal welfare, justice and the nature of violence – which all condense into a fundamental question about fate vs. free will...continued

Full Review (573 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Rachel Hullett).

Media Reviews

New York Times
The smoother argument made in Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead is that conforming to nature is sanity, whereas conforming to humanity is idiocy. To be in constant grief due to the cruelty of man is not misanthropy, it’s pure logic. 'What sort of a world is this, where killing and pain are the norm?' Duszejko asks. 'What on earth is wrong with us?' 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.

The Economist (UK)
Sardonic humour and gothic plot-twists add a layer of macabre rustic comedy.

The Guardian (UK)
One of the funniest books of the year.

The New Statesman (UK)
Tokarczuk's prescient, provocative and furiously comic fiction seethes with a Blakean conviction of the cleansing power of rage…[An] invigorating combination of the mystical, the vengeful and the domestic…elegantly subversive

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
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.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Tokarczuk's mercurial prose seems capable of just about anything. Like the prizewinning Flights, this novel resists the easy conventions of the contemporary work of fiction. In her depictions of her characters and their worlds—both internal and external—Tokarczuk has created something entirely new.

Author Blurb Annie Proulx
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.

Reader Reviews

Sandi W

take my review with a grain of salt...
3 stars Thanks to Edelweiss and Riverhead Books Publishing for the chance to read this ARC. Published August 13, 2019. This is a translated book. Originally written in Polish. This book was so confusing for me. There were parts that I really liked ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Women in Translation

Women in Translation Month logoTranslated fiction is something of a rarity in the English-speaking world. It's been widely reported that only about 3% of books published in the United States were originally written in a language other than English – a statistic that led to the creation of the University of Rochester's Three Percent database, a valuable online resource for all things having to do with international literature. (This database is now hosted by Publishers Weekly.)

Book lover and PhD student Meytal Radzinksi dug a little deeper into the statistical makeup of translated lit, concluding that only about 30% of new translations into English are books by female authors. This gender disparity inspired Radzinksi to create the @read_WIT Twitter account in ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, try these:

  • The Thursday Murder Club jacket

    The Thursday Murder Club

    by Richard Osman

    Published 2020

    About this book

    Four septuagenarians with a few tricks up their sleeves
    A female cop with her first big case
    A brutal murder
    Welcome to...
    THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB

  • The Sacrament jacket

    The Sacrament

    by Olaf Olafsson

    Published 2020

    About this book

    More books by this author

    The haunting, vivid story of a nun whose past returns to her in unexpected ways, all while investigating a mysterious death and a series of harrowing abuse claims.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: White Too Long
    White Too Long
    by Robert P. Jones
    Religious scholar Robert P. Jones doesn't pull any punches in his latest book, White Too Long: The ...
  • Book Jacket: Caste
    Caste
    by Isabel Wilkerson
    In 2020, the word "racist" remains taboo. Conceptually, racism is so culturally unacceptable, so ...
  • Book Jacket: The Deepest South of All
    The Deepest South of All
    by Richard Grant
    Author Richard Grant frequently uses his wanderlust to explore diverse stories that create a complex...
  • Book Jacket: Piranesi
    Piranesi
    by Susanna Clarke
    Our First Impressions readers were delighted with this speculative novel by Susanna Clarke, her ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Blind Light
    by Stuart Evers

    A multigenerational story about two families bound together by the tides of history.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Exiles
by Christina Baker Kline

The author of Orphan Train returns with an ambitious, emotionally resonant historical novel.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Agent Sonya

Agent Sonya: Moscow's Most Daring Wartime Spy

Master storyteller Ben Macintyre tells the true story behind the Cold War's most intrepid female spy.

Enter


Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I I M B T Give T T R

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.