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Never underestimate the strength and fortitude of middle age ladies What makes this novel stand out is precisely its unusual protagonist single, eccentric, living in the woods with her astrology A woman we would pass on the street and ignore, like many do in the telling of the tale, much to their own disadvantageJanine hates her name and loves giving her own names to folks in her life The naming of Big Foot occured in a similar way It was quite straightforward it suggested itself to me Never underestimate the strength and fortitude of middle age ladies What makes this novel stand out is precisely its unusual protagonist single, eccentric, living in the woods with her astrology A woman we would pass on the street and ignore, like many do in the telling of the tale, much to their own disadvantageJanine hates her name and loves giving her own names to folks in her life The naming of Big Foot occured in a similar way It was quite straightforward it suggested itself to me when I saw his footprints in the snowUnfortunately, I couldn t choose a suitable name for myself I regard that the one that s written on my identity card as scandalously wrong for me and unfair Janina I think my real name is Emily, or Joanna Sometimes I think it s something like Irmtrude too Or Bellona Or Medea p 19 The mention of Medea is particularly significant in what follows.She is quite alone and saddened when she tries to save an abused animal which returns to its abusive home when she opens her door That was the last I d seen of her I d called her, annoye at letting myself be led up the garden path so easily, and helpless in the path of the sinister workings of bondage I d started to put on my boots, but that terrible gray morning alarmed me Sometimes I feel as if we re living inside a tomb, a large spacious one for lots of people I looked at the world wreathed in gray Murk, cold and nasty The prison is not outside, but inside each of us Perhaps we simply don t know how to live without it p 32 I found this a nice update to Nietsche s abyss.Her concept of spirituality is Kantian to a degree And it will unfold for us, for it is our mother, this Light, and we came from it We even carry a particle of it within us, each of us, even Big Foot So in fact death should please us p 39 Many times in the book, Janine observes nature very carefully and sees the interdependency of relationships see page 98 for some aspects of the life of certain birds This reminded me a bit of The Overstory in that nature is very important to the action in the book The book is populated with characters such as Good News who has a shop that Janine adores and the existential Dentist who performs surgery illegally out in a yard p 136 and her best friend Dizzy who translates William Blake poetry with Janine.What I liked was her keen sense of observation such as the overuse of expressions by people These words or phrases are the key to their intellect Mr Apparently, Mr Generally, Mrs Probably, Mr Fucking, Mrs Don t You Think, Mr As If The President was Mr In Truth Of course there are entire fashions for some words, just like the ones that for some crazy reason suddenly everyone start going about in identical shows or clothes people just as suddenly start using one particular word or phrase Recently the word generally was fashionable but now actually is out in front p 185 I think this is the kind of observation I could have read in KOK or DFW.There is also a great deal of humor and irony, particularly in her various appeals to the police such as the letter about various trials of animals throughout history p 190 She has some interesting theories The psyche is our defense system it makes sure we ll never understand what s going on around us Its main task is to filter information, even though the capabilities of our brains are enormous For it would be impossible to carry the weight of this knowledge Because every tiny particle of the world is made of suffering p 225 This is a powerful piece of literature and I am definitely intrigued and want to readby this author (((E-PUB))) ⇝ Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead ⇨ 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 Now shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2019This is the second book by Olga Tokarczuk to be published in translation by Fitzcarraldo Editions The previous one Flights deservedly won this year s Man Booker International prize and is my favourite of all the books I have read this year This one is very different but just as interesting in some ways it is closer in spirit to Primeval and Other Times, the second Tokarczuk novel to be translated into English.The translation is by An Now shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2019This is the second book by Olga Tokarczuk to be published in translation by Fitzcarraldo Editions The previous one Flights deservedly won this year s Man Booker International prize and is my favourite of all the books I have read this year This one is very different but just as interesting in some ways it is closer in spirit to Primeval and Other Times, the second Tokarczuk novel to be translated into English.The translation is by Antonia Lloyd Jones, who is English, so I was a little surprised by the spelling of the striking title Those who know their William Blake well may recognise it as a quotation, and indeed Blake takes a major role in the book The epigraphs which begin each chapter are all quotations from Blake s poems, and one character is translating Blake into Polish At one point four attempts at translating a stanza are quoted, which must have been quite a challenge to translate back into English In addition to the title quotation, which appears in a pivotal chapter near the end of the book, the word plough occurs twice in the book, both spelled the modern English way, once when describing a ploughed field and once for the constellation.The narrator Janina Duszejko is a brilliant creation a woman in her 60s who lives in an isolated hamlet near the Czech border which is almost deserted in winter She acts as a caretaker for various summer residents and prefers animals to humans.At the start of the book she is woken by her neighbour Oddball to investigate the death of another neighbour Big Foot , a poacher who appears to have choked to death This is the first of a number of deaths of those involved in hunting in the area, and the narrator ascribes them to the revenge of the animals, and her attempts to persuade the police to listen are largely ignored She also believes that all of the deaths have been predicted by astrology, her other main interest The narrator has many other eccentricities, for example she hates her own name, particularly being addressed as Janina, and she prefers to name people for herself using nicknames unless she feels their names fit them especially well Another quirk of the text is the quasi Biblical usage of initial capital letters to stress particular improper nouns, for example her Ailments.This description barely hints at how rich, allusive and atmospheric the story is, and the dark denouement is fitting Oh, YES.Literary, quirky, snarky, noir Asks the same questions that Dostoevsky asks in Crime and Punishment who has the right to live who has the right to kill and what s the difference between a poacher and a hunter, anyway that last question is Tokarczuk s, not Dostoevsky s These questions are asked in a most unique way A middle aged woman in rural Poland, a woman who is best described as eccentric obsessed with astrology, plagued by ailments both physical and psychological , fi Oh, YES.Literary, quirky, snarky, noir Asks the same questions that Dostoevsky asks in Crime and Punishment who has the right to live who has the right to kill and what s the difference between a poacher and a hunter, anyway that last question is Tokarczuk s, not Dostoevsky s These questions are asked in a most unique way A middle aged woman in rural Poland, a woman who is best described as eccentric obsessed with astrology, plagued by ailments both physical and psychological , finds herself in the middle of something of a murder mystery The world is out of order Is it because Saturn is in the 8th house Or because the animals have had enough, at long last This is an utter delight to read I enjoyed being in the head of this marvellously unreliable narrator, smirked at her many amusing observations, her interactions with the people in her life and the natural world What an original voice That voice is everything in this book The way she capitalizes certain words, assigns her own names to people, ponders the proverbs of William Blake where the fabulous title of this novel originates Janina is someone I will not soon forget.At the same time, this book is dark and tinged throughout with death Death of all creatures, humans included The cruelty of the elements, of seclusion The loneliness experienced by a group of misfits The solitary steps of one going against the tide The unstoppable universe, with everyone s fate, on a crash course.It s this crash course that drives the reader through these pages You sort of know what s happening, but need to see it played out, the way it was written in the stars, for better or worse.Olga Tokarczuk, 2018 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, has truly impressed me What an inspiration It shouldn t be a surprise though this is her destiny, after all 3.5 In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy Drive your cart and drive, over the bones of the dead The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom William Blake from the Marriage of Heaven and Hell.The author just won the Novel Prize, announced I believe, today This is one weird story, but somehow compelling in its strangeness A very unusual lead character, Janina, in her sixties lives on the edge of the Czech Polish border She is rather a rec use with only a few friends, b 3.5 In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy Drive your cart and drive, over the bones of the dead The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom William Blake from the Marriage of Heaven and Hell.The author just won the Novel Prize, announced I believe, today This is one weird story, but somehow compelling in its strangeness A very unusual lead character, Janina, in her sixties lives on the edge of the Czech Polish border She is rather a rec use with only a few friends, but she loves the animals in Forest, and is mourning the loss of her two missing dogs Her main occupation is the translating the poetry of William Blake This and a few side jobs keep her occupied She is also in bad health and occasionally her condition flares up, keeping her down and out When bodies of those she is aquainted with are found murder, Janina tries to convince the police that they are being murdered by the animals that are being mistreated.At one point, in this slowly paced story, I thought I would never get out of Poland I couldn t figure out where this story was going, nor what it meant Was Janina losing her mind Or was it everyone else who not seeing what they should Is this a fairy tale, a mystery or maybe a parable Janina also is a strong believer in astrology, and it is these sections that I felt slowed down this novel Not sure they were necessary, at least not as lengthy It does highlight the man and animal connection, and if one is not a vegetarian this book makes a strong arguement for being one Well, I made it out of Poland and though I m glad to be done, I m also glad that I read this very different book It was unique for sure and provided a very interesting reading experience ARC from Edelweiss The most unintentionally metal title ever I really enjoyed this one I found the main character an old woman who s obsessed with astrology but is also a pretty bad astrologer really lovable I mostly loved her point of view and all her little quirks.There s a good murder mystery here and a deep meditation about our relationship to animals and hunting Sometimes in the novel, this is direct conversations like who are we to kill animals or judge which ones deserve to live and sometimes it s The most unintentionally metal title ever I really enjoyed this one I found the main character an old woman who s obsessed with astrology but is also a pretty bad astrologer really lovable I mostly loved her point of view and all her little quirks.There s a good murder mystery here and a deep meditation about our relationship to animals and hunting Sometimes in the novel, this is direct conversations like who are we to kill animals or judge which ones deserve to live and sometimes it s subtle the main character is deeply uncomfortable with assigned names I m not sure we re left with any good answers But it made me think And even though the main character s views veer into extremes, she was always thoughtful and had something worth listening to.I m not well versed in William Blake but I thought this was a cool way to talk about and use Blake s poems and letters And via Blake, it s a very memorable title There are some fun passages about trying to translate Blake that seemed like a fun meta commentary on reading a book like this in translation which overall I thought was a really good translation.It also made me realize that if you want to win some major prizes, go write yourself a fancy noir novel People love fancy noir I certainly do Total aside I checked this out from the library a week before the author won the Nobel prize It was exciting to hear the news and see the book on my shelf Natural JusticeHypocrisy allows us to remain alive Without it we would be forced to recognise the misery we endure and the misery we inflict So we lie we make evil, even if it s necessary evil, into virtue Untruthfulness is re branded as discretion Exploitation becomes providing employment Nationalism hides behind a mask of religious faith And environmental destruction is promoted as a divine right which human beings have an obligation to honour As Mrs Janina Duszejko, Civil Engineer Natural JusticeHypocrisy allows us to remain alive Without it we would be forced to recognise the misery we endure and the misery we inflict So we lie we make evil, even if it s necessary evil, into virtue Untruthfulness is re branded as discretion Exploitation becomes providing employment Nationalism hides behind a mask of religious faith And environmental destruction is promoted as a divine right which human beings have an obligation to honour As Mrs Janina Duszejko, Civil Engineer, English Teacher, Gnostic Astrologer, Committed Vegetarian, and translator of William Blake knows,The whole, complex human psyche has evolved to prevent Man from understanding what he is really seeingWhile not religious, Janina believes in cosmic order She thinks birth, death, and the course of our lives are determined by our pre conscious experience with the stars and the planets Living through the long winters in the isolated mountains of Southwestern Poland have given her plenty of leisure to pursue these connections The factual results of her research are clearevery tiny particle of the world is made of sufferingHer conclusion is that of William Blake himselfAnger puts things in order and shows you the world in a nutshell Anger restores the gift of Clarity of Vision, which it s hard to attain in any other state Without a doubt Anger is the source of all wisdom, for Anger has the power to exceed any limits Janina is angry and she dreams of revenge mainly against the local hunting fraternity who have killed her two dogs and any number of wild creatures whom she has befriended or admired She is unable to break through the wall of institutional hypocrisy that the hunters have erected to protect themselves But despite the solidarity among the local gentry, the police, the state forestry people, and even the Church, the leading hunters are found successively dead over the course of a year Janina blames the animals and writes the authorities repeatedly to inform them of her suspicions She doesn t want the animals punished but forgiven as a matter of justice, for it is obvious to her if to no one else thatthe world was not created for Mankind Only religious fanatics and other self serving types could argue otherwise Oh, wait, perhaps they re righteously angry too Is it only hypocrites who are hypocritical Drive Your Plow has been described as one of Olga Tokarczuk s lighter novels, written between the experimental Flights and The Books of Jacob as she said in this interview but this literary crime story, narrated by an eccentric animal lover in her 60s, is still full of ideas Some things were easy to say about the book It has gorgeous descriptions of nature In this it s similar to the writing of Andrzej Stasiuk, another major contemporary Polish author who, like Olga Tokarczuk, left Warsaw Drive Your Plow has been described as one of Olga Tokarczuk s lighter novels, written between the experimental Flights and The Books of Jacob as she said in this interview but this literary crime story, narrated by an eccentric animal lover in her 60s, is still full of ideas Some things were easy to say about the book It has gorgeous descriptions of nature In this it s similar to the writing of Andrzej Stasiuk, another major contemporary Polish author who, like Olga Tokarczuk, left Warsaw to move to the Tatra mountain border regions Although Tokarczuk was born near the area where she now lives Both writers incorporate the rural landscape and the culture of the border area into their work If you are an English language reader with heritage in the hills of southern of Poland, you are rather spoilt for choice it s not often that there is such an abundance of translated writing from such sparsely populated areas far from major cities Parts of Drive Your Plow contain intensely reflective and philosophical insights Especially near the beginning, there s a paragraph worth highlighting and remembering on every page These seem hint at why Tokarczuk s longer novel Flights won this year s International Booker, and why The Books of Jacob has been so eagerly awaited by English readers of complex fiction Some of the novel, especially after the early chapters, isof a pacy literary crime story, and less overtly philosophical Which makes it a faster, lighter read overall than it may seem from the opening pages however this may disappoint readers hoping for somethingstructurally experimental all the way through I m grateful to Katia s review, which I read before the novel itself it was invaluable in explaining that the narrator of Drive Your Plow is a riff on a 1990s East European trend for light, ironic novels featuring female detectives I couldn t help but see this through the lens of the English cosy mystery subgenre, as descended from Miss Marple but undoubtedly there are differences in the Polish equivalent which an English reader is unaware of The queen of 20th century Polish crime writing, the late Joanna Chmielewska, has not been translated to English as yet Seeing Drive Your Plow as a satire on old lady cosy mysteries made me look forward to reading it it seemed like an easy way into Tokarczuk s work,so than Flights, which had been talked up as formidable, or the two other books of hers which I d already owned for years, and which had become ought to reads at least as much as want to reads And, as it turned out, I loved what Tokarczuk added to the cosy mystery concept twists, politics, and amplification of traits that popular culture associates with older women living alone but which it does not necessarily respect including a mad cat lady love of all animals, not just cats, Pani Duszejko is actually a dog owner and a belief in superstitions and the supernatural The narrator is not as safe and sweet as your typical cosy mystery heroine There is also another feminist twist on crime fiction in general in Drive Your Plow, the murder victims are middle aged and older men not the usual young women or children In literary fiction, making astrology prominent in a narrative can get people s backs up, as it did with Eleanor Catton s 2013 Booker Winner The Luminaries I mean, this isn t romance or commercial women s fiction, is it On a personal level, I find horoscopes pernicious they can be an insidious nuisance when combined with a phase of OCD type issues But when they are used as complex motifs in a literary novel, I think the snobbery they provoke is excessive Some have described this snobbery as sexist, although perhaps it is also sexist to align astrology so strongly with women I doubt that heavy use of, for example, Renaissance alchemy and its symbolism, in a work of fiction would irritate the same people to the same extent Astrology is, similarly, a system of symbols and interactions one well known in current pop culture It has a place in fiction just like other features of pop culture disliked by some readers of serious novels I daresay Olga Tokarczuk thought about all this as well as hardline Polish Catholic clergy s dislike of astrology when she decided to put it in Drive Your Plow although she wouldn t have known that the novel would be translated to English at a time when astrology is gaining in popularity among younger people.Janina seemed so similar although not, I hasten to add, in her most extreme actions to a couple of women whose posts I d read years ago in pet forums, that I wondered if the translator had read the same forums and taken inspiration from the writing style of these people She shares other characteristics with them beyond narrative voice a level of intelligence and expertise in her chosen interests which a lot of people wouldn t think a mad cat lady type would have and anger and hardcore views about animal rightsusually associated with recently converted young vegans It turns out that a linguistic similarity, the capitalisation of certain nouns, such as Animals, was present in the original Polish novel thank you GR Agnieszka Later in the book, extended English prose quotations from William Blake Janina s favourite author, of whom she makes unpublished Polish translations as a hobby indicated that he was actually the inspiration behind her capitalisations He was writing at a time when this capitalisation wasaccepted, and not necessarily an indicator of personal eccentricity, corporate brand speak, or of a story for children, as it is now Since reading Drive Your Plow, and this review, I ve also read Henry Fielding s Tom Jones 1749 , in the Penguin edition that preserves the original capitalisation, and where it is used for every Noun Blake, writing decades later, wasselective about his use of caps For all its positives, I also thought the book might be shooting itself in the foot while trying to do too many clever things in one go The plot twist seemed to undermine the novel s causes greater respect for women like Janina, for environmental and animal rights activism and opposition to conservative Catholicism This comes to an aspect of the book that I found tricky to write about I revised draft reviewsthan once in the hope of being both true to my own views, anddiplomatic about religion In the end, the latter became easier I realised that whilst, historically, the Christian doctrine of man s dominion over the animals can be seen as background to the current environmental situation, the exploitation of nature is nowadays criticised by some prominent clergy Although this varies greatly by country and denomination, in general there are practices various branches of Christianity used to support, and which they no longer condone Sweeping judgements about the entire religion are one of the ways in which the narrator goes too far Although to an anticlerical Pole reading Plow when it was first published ten years ago and anticlericalism has a long tradition in Polish intellectual life these views may not have sounded unfairly sweeping Many of these ecologically minded Christian developments happened since the book s first publication, and in other countries Traditional Polish Catholicism was, and is, very different church from the 2000s Church of England, with its fair trade craft fairs Anglicanism is a denomination for which it has been no great leap to speak out about the environmentDrive Your Plow is ambiguous about what is heroism and what is villainy In this it has similarities to the Channel 4 series Utopia with its plot relating to human overpopulation By showing a character whom most would consider to be going too far, it prompts its audience, at any rate those who agree that there is an underlying issue, to consider where they think lines should be drawn, and what might be done in the real world I felt that Drive Your Plow, through its ambiguous narrative tone, has potential to appeal to readers who disagree with Janina s views on animal rights as well as those broadly sympathetic although in practice I am not sure if that has been borne out.One could say that Tokarczuk was using the novel s ambiguity to protect herself given the far greater conservatism on animal rights issues in Poland, as compared with Britain But in Poland the novel was not received as ambiguous It apparently led to new debate about hunting, according to an interview with Tokarczuk earlier in 2018 Hunting has become a hot political issue in Poland since the novel was published, but at the time few were thinking about it Some people said that once again Tokarczuk is an old crazy woman doing weird things, but then this big discussion started on the internet about what we can do about this very patriarchal, Catholic traditionThank you to Neil s review for prompting me to look at this interview The pro hunting clerical tradition represented by the priest in Drive Your Plow remains alive and well in Poland, and was influencing political policy seven years after the book s publication, in favour of logging at the once revered ancient Bia owie a Forest Sections of the Catholic and Orthodox churches have played a partisan role in the debate, with a passage from Genesis be fruitful, and multiply, replenish the earth and subdue it often used to justify increased logging.One orthodox priest from Hajn wka, Leonid Szeszko, recently called for scientific, environmental and NGOs which opposed the logging plans to be banned.Szyszko, who has championed the logging law, is a regular guest on the ultra conservative Radio Maria, a Catholic radio station, and appears at conferences with a priest garbed in a forester s green uniform.Even if one reads with awareness of this, the prevailing attitudes detailed in the book seem old fashioned and sometimes downright strange from a British perspective I doubt it would be generally considered extreme or weird to make meticulous reports about infractions of hunting byelaws in the UK, even if some locals in some areas might not be receptive And in UK cities it is pretty common to be vegetarian, like Janina, or vegan Fur farming another sub plot in Drive Your Plow has been illegal in Britain for about 15 years now, and was already in decline before that It was quite eye opening to see how differently these things were evidently regarded by the majority in Poland The hunt chaplain s sermon seemed almost medieval Nor, in contemporary Britain, would the established church be considered the primary upholder of man s dominion over the animals , as the Polish Catholic Church is in Drive Your Plow The CofE is both less influential, and rather different in its prevailing politics I wrote in a draft a couple of weeks before posting this review that it was inconceivable that former Archbishop of Canterbury and national treasure Rowan Williams, would utter anything like Father Rustle s sermon Then, emphasising this, in the intervening fortnight, Williams spoke out in support of Extinction Rebellion, a new protest movement calling forgovernment action on climate change It wouldn t be correct, either, to take the book s view of the Polish Catholic church as globally characteristic of Catholicism, even if conservative Catholicism is influential in some countries Semantically, being against nature conservation always seems a very poor use of the word conservative Famously, there was Pope Francis 2015 encyclical Laudato si a follow up to Polish Pope John Paul II s 1990 message The Ecological Crisis There are also smaller initiatives including a number of orders of nuns making active efforts to live sustainably.In Plow, the conservative Catholicism of Father Rustle and the hunters needs to be set against the narrator as a folkloric pagan symbol in herself I had passing thoughts of the crone aspect of the Celtic neopagan triple goddess, but this was a Polish book so it didn t seem terribly relevant Mimi s excellent review points out, among other things, that Janina is a Jungian crone, and makes a highly plausible connection with Baba Yaga I was kicking myself for not having thought of Baba Yaga Thus the narrator could also be connected loosely with Slavic neopaganism, a small movement which tends to beopenly critical of Christianity than is contemporary Western paganism Incidentally, this is the first time since veganism became a major social trend that I ve encountered a novel with a narrator who might be on the wavelength of hardcore vegans i.e the people who post confrontationally under Guardian cookery articles about meat, or who actively campaign Actually, have I ever There is surprisingly little about vegetarianism and veganism in novels, considering how common they are among urban creative people in the global North Anyway, it would be interesting to hear what young vegans who were into astrology thought of Drive Your Plow Janina isin tune with their views than most fictional characters of her age but is her ambiguity too discomfiting In yet another of her interviews for the Guardian during 2018, Olga Tokarczuk mentioned that Leonora Carrington s The Hearing Trumpet was one of her favourite books, and an influence on Drive Your Plow I read it not long before Plow I d been thinking of reading The Hearing Trumpet for years, and here was a good reason The parallels between the two books areevident now a month after finishing Plow than they did in close up, while I was reading Tokarczuk s book Transparently, both are about older female protagonists who are not taken seriously by many of the other characters but they are centred and respected by their respective first person narratives They are not the kind of unreliable narrators that seem crafted to show up and trip up the protagonists, even if it is evident that the other characters don t see them as they see themselves Both books are somewhat ambiguous and or potentially shooting themselves in the foot they kind of celebrate their heroines as interesting women who don t follow societal norms and who should be listened to , alongside indicating why many people, even sympathetic people, might disregard their views to some extent Tokarczuk has also used ambiguity, or rather tact and subtlety in the allusive matter of Janina s ailments But this ambiguity is also what makes these books art rather than merely socio political arguments and campaigns They don t provide the easy arguments one might like them to As in The Hearing Trumpet, people with dementia may be imagining fascinating worlds inside their heads and they deserve to live in a friendly environment that meets their needs and to be taken seriously but the dementia can also make it difficult to keep them anchored in the real world and to be sure what they say is real Old ladies obsessed with animals may be intelligent people who ve had interesting, repsonsible jobs, and be driven campaigners but they might go too far and occasionally, inserious ways than in writing endless complaint letters in the proverbial green ink And theI think about the idea of Janina as Baba Yaga, thecoherent the novel s ambiguity seems.I ve owned other books by Olga Tokarczuk for several years, but this new one is the first of hers I ve actually read I was impressed though given that Plow is one of her lighter efforts, and still contained so much, it did not make me much less daunted by the prospect of reading Flights, which had been steadily sweeping 2018 s translation shortlists before it e.g Czes aw Mi osz, History of Polish Literature, p.xiv,a curious dichotomy aor less permanent trait of Polish letters namely an emotional moralism obviously nourished by a strong residue of Christian ethics has coexisted with anti clericalism and an utter skepticism as to any dogmas religious or politicalRead Sept Oct 2018 reviewed Nov 2018 revised March 2019 for clarity style , and to incorporate points from comments about Polish anticlericalism and Janina as crone If you ve got a bit of Jane Goodall in you as I do , try this off beat thriller The humor is subtle and the style beautifully stripped down The writing exhibits a mastery of tone and narrative pacing that induced wonder and admiration in this reader.Our storyteller is an elderly woman who, living alone in a rural area of Poland between Wroc aw and the Czech border, is awakened in the dead of night by her neighbor, Oddball, to be told that another neighbor, Big Foot, is dead The woman is ecce If you ve got a bit of Jane Goodall in you as I do , try this off beat thriller The humor is subtle and the style beautifully stripped down The writing exhibits a mastery of tone and narrative pacing that induced wonder and admiration in this reader.Our storyteller is an elderly woman who, living alone in a rural area of Poland between Wroc aw and the Czech border, is awakened in the dead of night by her neighbor, Oddball, to be told that another neighbor, Big Foot, is dead The woman is eccentric, but intelligent and compassionate She has long despised Big Foot for his arrogant behavior, and reckless despoliation of The Plateau, the isolated area in which they live, and brutal treatment of his dog She has reported him to the police, who are a laughable bit of dysfunction unto themselves Now he is dead After the discovery Mrs Duszejko goes about her business She housesits for those who use their houses only as summer retreats, whereas she is on The Plateau year round, roughing the bitter winters alone when it can reach 20 F Though her vocabulary is laudably rich, and her understanding of the natural sciences keen, she has an incongruous fondness for astrology, of which she says, Nothing is capable of eluding this order p 56 She believes that her Little Ladies, that is the local deer, for she is a stalwart lover of Animal life, have conspired with other local wildlife to murder a second person she bases this speculation on the hundreds of deer prints left in the snow near the murder scene, which she happens upon Between these two deaths Big Foot s has been ruled an accidental choking he was eating poached deer at the time Mrs Duszejko, a retired teacher of English, teams up with a former student, Dizzy, to consult with him as he methodically translates the collected works of William Blake into Polish She wishes she knew Animal script so she could warn the innocent creatures away from the hunters Then again she wishes she could be aloof to the crimes committed around her, like those a short drive away in Auschwitz who hardly know what happened there during the war She is alas not made of such incurious stuff She sees suffering and despairs.Soon when visiting the police commissioner she s raving like a PETA member You ll say it s just one Boar, I continued, But what about the deluge of butchered meat that falls on our cities day by day like never ending, apocalyptic rain This rain heralds slaughter, disease, collective madness, the obfuscation and contamination of the Mind For no human heart is capable of bearing such pain The whole, complex human psyche has evolved to prevent Man from understanding what he is really seeing To stop the truth from reaching him by wrapping it in illusion, in idle chatter The world is a prison of suffering, so constructed that in order to survive one must inflict pain on others p 106 The killings go on All the victims are hunters, middle aged men Mrs Duszejko continues to write letters to the police in which she interprets the horoscopes of the dead, citing relevant planetary conjunctions and the like She gets no reply There are many twists in Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead that this summary doesn t touch on and let s not forget about the final kicker This is the work of an extraordinarily talented writer, relatively new to English speakers, whom I look forward to readingof Hypnotic stuff Most memorable main character in a book this year This was a different sort of novel with a different sort of heroine A quirky, eccentric old lady who is not taken seriously by the authorities, even when a series of dead bodies turn up in their small village in Poland She claims to have proof that it is the Animals they re always capitalized when she speaks taking revenge on the hunters, and backs up her claims by doing intricate astrological charts for the deceased, showing how their murde Most memorable main character in a book this year This was a different sort of novel with a different sort of heroine A quirky, eccentric old lady who is not taken seriously by the authorities, even when a series of dead bodies turn up in their small village in Poland She claims to have proof that it is the Animals they re always capitalized when she speaks taking revenge on the hunters, and backs up her claims by doing intricate astrological charts for the deceased, showing how their murders by Animals were governed and predicted by the stars.I couldn t help but like Janina Duszejko, with her oddities and her passion for animals She s not a saint and she s not all there at times but she draws you in with her fervor and eccentricity The book is kind of a mystery but not so much It s worth reading for the characters alone It s a novel I didn t want to put down and it s a novel that makes you think Duszejko s thoughts were at times spot on and at others far out there, but at all times compelling, pulling you in to her world I highly recommend to those who enjoy a character driven novel Its Animals show the truth about a country, Duszejko said Its attitude toward Animals If people behave brutally toward Animals, no form of democracy is ever going to help them, in fact nothing will at all