Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

It would feel rude to call her Janina. She resents her name, and she is now old enough (and often sick enough) that “I must always wash my feet thoroughly before bed, in the event of having to be removed by an ambulance in the Night.”

She dubs the few people in her rural life—in the blinding, frigid winter at the very edge of Poland—Big Foot, Oddball, Dizzy, Good News, and The Gray Lady.

On the night we meet her, Oddball is at her door. Big Foot is dead.

Oddball takes her to Big Foot’s cottage. To the taut, twisted body. Oddball was a hunter, and past the windows, the animals are watching.

The fields and forests are ravaged by hunters. And as local men keep dying their bizarre deaths—carnivores, hunters, the owner of a slaughterhouse—she hears rumors of mafia hits, deals gone wrong, but she believes the animals are exacting their revenge.

No one believes her, of course, the eccentric recluse who rails on about astrology and William Blake and the flurries of deer tracks surrounding each fresh body. She knows how she sounds to them. Still she writes her long letters to the police.

Anyway, thought I’d recommend the newly translated Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead on the off-chance you haven’t overdosed on darkly funny, magnificently titled vegetarian-feminist Polish murder mysteries lately. This is a truly great one. PLEASE READ

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, from Riverhead