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Summary

With Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead, Man Booker International Prize-winner Olga Tokarczuk returns with a subversive, entertaining noir novel. 

In a remote Polish village, Janina Duszejko, an eccentric woman in her 60s, recounts the events surrounding the disappearance of her two dogs. She is reclusive, preferring the company of animals to people; she’s unconventional, believing in the stars; and she is fond of the poetry of William Blake, from whose work the title of the book is taken. 

When members of a local hunting club are found murdered, Duszejko becomes involved in the investigation. By no means a conventional crime story, this existential thriller by ‘one of Europe’s major humanist writers’ (Guardian) offers thought-provoking ideas on our perceptions of madness, injustice against marginalized people, animal rights, the hypocrisy of traditional religion, belief in predestination - and caused a genuine political uproar in Tokarczuk’s native Poland.

©2020 Olga Tokarczuk (P)2021 Fitzcarraldo Editions

What listeners say about Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead

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  • Overall
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A beautiful, intelligent narration

With a remote snowbound location on the Czech-Polish border and a handful of awkward misfit characters Tokarczuk weaves a spellbinding tale, toying with crime fiction, magical realism, feminist literature and the poetry of William Blake. Pity the poor librarian who must figure out which shelf this belongs on.

In her protagonist Janina, she gives voice to an otherwise invisible person, a woman, late in life, ignored by authority, with no status, but who in return, guided by her own mysticism ignores the rules and ploughs her own furrow using her invisible footsteps in the snow to solve, or possibly commit a crime.

This crisp and luminous translation by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, who also narrates beautifully here, surely helped cement Togarchuk’s international literary reputation.

Narrating a character that is eccentric, unreliable, sometimes admirable and sometimes downright unlikeable, is a tough call, but as Blake avers “Without contraries is no progression”; this is such a well paced and intelligent reading. I had already read the book and had not planned to download the audio version, but was enticed to listen to this recording by the preview. What comes out in this wonderful reading is the warmth and humour of the novel. I liked all the characters a lot more after this as they seemed to acquire a life of their own, and live on after the words were done.

4 people found this helpful

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excellent versatile story

I must contradict the previous reviews with regard to narration, I personally think it perfectly fits the character. The translator has done excellent job in both: translating and narrating.
As for the story itself, it's vividly written, with enjoyable humour. It's dark, at moments disgusting, sometimes slightly boring, but it's all there for a reason, you must listen it till the end!

3 people found this helpful

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Incredible

One of the best stories I’ve listened to in a long time. Sad, beautiful, funny, moving, divine. Thank you.

1 person found this helpful

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Loved the narration and the beautiful writing.

I've seen a few reviews complaining about the narration of this book, but I absolutely loved it and thought it was a brilliant, perfectly fitting reading of a great story.

The narrator was definitely a big factor in my enjoyment of the book, in fact I will likely listen again, which is something I don't do with many audiobooks.

I will be reading more by the author. I loved her style. Very intelligent and beautiful writing.

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As poor a piece of narration as I have heard

it is impossible to enjoy Antonia`s translation because her reading is so bad on so many levels. I am horrified that a Nobel Laureate`s work can be released in an audio book that pays no attention whatsoever to rhythm or any other prerequisites of the spoken text. I abandoned this in sheer disgust that the publishers and producer allowed it to be released.

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A strange and meditative, beautiful story

A cryptic, beautiful story that demands a second read. The writing, as always with Tokarczuk, is top notch. The narrator makes some pretty basic errors around phrasing (a few sentences don't actually make sense the way she has split them up) and a few mispronunciations which could be forgiven but her style is rather tedious to listen to with a fairly predictable range of character voices that begin to sound rather similar. Definitely a reader rather than a storyteller. Despite this, give the book a go (or even better find a different recording), it deserves your attention.

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Something special wonderfully performed.

Not my usual reading. Quirky but the brilliance of the imagination and writing makes it apparent why the author won the Nobel prize. It won't be to the taste of many. The performance of the narrator/translator made this particular listen very memorable.

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Amazing Ending

It’s a little slow to begin with but has an absolutely superb ending, making it thoroughly worth watching!

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Phenomenal story let down by the narrator.

I loved the story but the narrator was poor. It seems that the translator read her own work. While I think she deserves a lot of credit for the quality of the translation I feel that the recording quality leaves something to be desired.

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Good story, wrong voice

I did not like the narrator's voice. Part of me hunks that maybe it was this annoying because the character is supposed to be annoying but I think I would have liked the story and the character better if the narrator's voice was less shrill. The story is not mind blowing either but it is subtle as well as clear and with multiple unique angles which I totally respect and even admire.