Book Review: Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead



Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
by Olga Tokarczuk

A quaint rural town, a few mysterious deaths, a little old lady discussing those deaths with friends over tea. Is it an Agatha Christie mystery? No, dear reader, this is something far weirder, and also a very fun read. This is Olga Tokarczuk's Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead.

Janina Duszejko is our first person narrator of this tale, which as other reviewers have noted, is part murder mystery and part fairy tale as told by the witch. Full of atmosphere, and quotes from the poetry of William Blake (from which the title derives), the tale is interspersed with Janina's thoughts on animal rights, astrology, the primacy of nature, the ghosts which haunt her boiler room, and most of all a subversive sense of humor.

The story is set in a small Polish village near the border with the Czech Republic. It's on "the Plateau", an area known for it's harsh winters. Few people chose to live there year 'round - just Janina and a couple of other neighbors. It's with the death of one of her neighbors that the book opens.

The setting of this book easily drew me in. I too live in a small, rural area, in my case close to the Canadian border, also known for it's harsh winters, and where few choose to live year 'round. Once I was drawn in I quickly realized what an imaginative, thought provoking, genre-bending ride this book is. It's a 2019 Nobel winner to boot.

This book was translated from the original Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. The English version is both lyrical and straightforward.

If you like mysteries, thrillers, or atmospheric tales, and if you appreciate an off-beat sense of humor than you'll like this book. I give Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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