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MBI 2019 Longlist: Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk


Our 2nd longlist book this one was read by panellists Book Worm and Tracy.

Synopsis from Goodreads: One of Poland’s most imaginative and lyrical writers, Olga Tokarczuk presents us with a detective story with a twist in DRIVE YOUR PLOW OVER THE BONES OF THE DEAD. After her two dogs go missing and members of the local hunting club are found murdered, teacher and animal rights activist Janina Duszejko becomes involved in the ensuing investigation. Part magic realism, part detective story, DRIVE YOUR PLOW OVER THE BONES OF THE DEAD is suspenseful and entertaining reimagining of the genre interwoven with poignant and insightful commentaries on our perceptions of madness, marginalised people and animal rights.

Book Worm’s Thoughts: I absolutely loved this book in our normal rating system this would be a 5 star read for me, from the first few pages this had me giggling to myself. Tokarczuk is an astute observer of humans and how they work. Their foibles, their noble qualities and their hypocrisy.

I love the murder mystery and found it very original in terms of set up and execution. The narrator is brilliant and I really enjoyed being inside her head listening to her ruminations about her fellow human beings and especially her arguments against the use of traditional names. I also liked the secondary characters who were all fully formed individuals.

In terms of plot this had a beginning, a middle and a very satisfying end.

Writing quality: 4/5
Originality: 4/5
Character development: 4/4
Plot development: 4/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 18 /20

Tracy’s Thoughts: Oh, I laughed. Janina is a Person who loves astrology and Animals, seemingly more than she loves People. And she is a character!

When the hunters in her sleepy hamlet start getting themselves killed, she says the Animals are taking their revenge. And her sleuthing seems to point that way.

I enjoyed most of the book a great deal. Mainly because I went to college with a bunch of Janinas, and I swear Tokarczuk must have known my aunt.

This was a fun story with a message about the environment and human disregard for nature. There was a cast of secondary characters who were the true heroes of the story- not only because they were kind and cared about Janina, but they also had to put up with her eccentricity.

Where it fell short: I felt at times that Janina was portrayed a bit too much as an eccentric, and it was hard to take the message of the book seriously because of this. I also felt the ending was convenient and predictable.

Writing quality: 4/5
Originality: 3/5
Character development: 4/4
Plot development: 2/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 15/20

Total 16.5/20

Have your read this one? What did you think?


Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead 16.5/20

Celestial Bodies 14/20



One Comment Post a comment
  1. A curious combination of genres – crime fiction and magical realism! Sounds from your reviewer’s comments however that this odd mix does work


    March 26, 2019

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