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Dept. of speculation

Dept. of speculation Jenny Offill

An account of marriage and motherhood, love and madness

They used to be young, brave, and giddy with hopes for their future. They got married, had a child, and skated through all the small calamities of family life. But then, slowly, quietly something changes. As the years rush by, fears creep in and doubts accumulate until finally their life as they know it cracks apart and they find themselves forced to reassess what they have lost, what is left, and what they want now.

Written with the dazzling lucidity of poetry, Dept. of Speculation navigates the jagged edges of a modern marriage to tell a story that is darkly funny, surprising and wise. The novel is a cracked mirror that throws light in every direction - on music and literature; science and philosophy; marriage and motherhood and infidelity; and especially love and the grueling rigors of domestic life.

  • With exceptional originality, intensity and sweetness [...] Dept. of Speculation is a shattered novel that stabs and sparkles at the same time. It is the kind of book that you will be quoting over and over to friends who don't quite understand, until they give in and read it too. John Self, Guardian
  • 'It's often extremely funny and often painful; earnestly direct but glancingly ironic... Dept. of Speculation is all the powerful because it first appears slight. Its depth and intensity make a stealthy purchase on the reader' --James Wood, New Yorker
  • 'Profoundly moving... Offill nails life to the page. She's good on falling in love. She's good on the poleaxing exhaustion of early motherhood. But she's at her best on the grim, "stateless" no-man's-land between being a wife and becoming a divorcee. And if all of this bleakness makes you quest, don't be. Offill is also sharply witty and there is a happy ending' -- Intelligent Life
  • 'Beautiful, carefully crafted... The effect is poetic in its beauty and intensity. It is also very funny. It is about life, unvarnished, yet every bit of it made profound by Offill's glorious prose' -- Financial Times
  • 'Written in fragments that seem at first to be random thoughts plucked from Offill's mental wanderings, but gradually coalescing into a rich and satisfying whole, the narrative (and the narrator) are propped up by eclectic oneliners - from poets to various astronauts - and even a snippet of advice for wives circa 1896 to avoid the indiscriminate reading of novels lest it breeds a contempt for domestic duties. Offill's novel is a life raft: read it for its unsentimental scoop on love, the breaking of something good, and the possibility of patching the cracks and pulling through' -- ,em>Independent
  • It’s short and funny and absorbing, an effortless-seeming downhill ride that picks up astonishing narrative speed as it goes. What’s remarkable is that Offill achieves this effect using what you might call an experimental or avant-garde style of narration, one that we associate with difficulty and disorientation rather than speed and easy pleasure. — New York Review of Books

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192 pp.
Paperback Paperback
Engelstalige literatuur

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