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Extended Audio Sample Dept. of Speculation, by Jenny Offill Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jenny Offill Narrator: Jenny Offill Publisher: Dreamscape Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Jenny Offill’s heroine, referred to in these pages as simply “the wife,” once exchanged love letters with her husband postmarked “Dept. of Speculation,” their code name for all the uncertainty that inheres in life and in the strangely fluid confines of a long relationship. As they confront an array of common catastrophes—a colicky baby, a faltering marriage, stalled ambitions—the wife analyzes her predicament, invoking everything from Keats and Kafka to the thought experiments of the Stoics to the lessons of doomed Russian cosmonauts. She muses on the consuming, capacious experience of maternal love, and the near total destruction of the self that ensues from it as she confronts the friction between domestic life and the seductions and demands of art.

With cool precision, in language that shimmers with rage and wit and fierce longing, Jenny Offill has crafted an exquisitely suspenseful love story that has the velocity of a train hurtling through the night at top speed. Exceptionally lean and compact, Dept. of Speculation is a novel to be devoured in a single sitting, though its bracing emotional insights and piercing meditations on despair and love will linger long after the last page.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Shimmering…Breathtaking…Joyously demanding.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Clever, subtle, and rife with strokes of beauty, this book is both readable in a single sitting and far ranging in the emotions it raises…Offill has equal parts cleverness and erudition, but it’s her language and eye for detail that make this a must-read.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “A magnetic novel about a marriage of giddy bliss and stratospheric anxiety, bedrock alliance and wrenching tectonic shifts…So precisely articulate that [Offill's] perfect, simple sentences vibrate like violin strings. And she is mordantly funny, a wry taxonomist of emotions and relationships…She has sliced life thin enough for a microscope and magnified it until it fills the mind's eye and the heart.”

    Booklist

  • “Exquisitely honed and vibrant…The reader easily identifies with [the narrator’s] struggles and frustrations…An enlightened choice for a reading group.”

    Library Journal

  • “If Rainer Maria Rilke had written a novel, it might look something like this…Lyrical…Philosophically rich…Moments of literary experimentation worthy of Virginia Woolf.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week, January 2014
  • A New York Times Best Book of 2014
  • A 2014 New York Times Notable Book
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About the Author

Jenny Offill is the author of the novel Last Things, which was chosen as a New York Times Notable Book and a finalist for the LATimes First Book Award. She is the co-editor, with Elissa Schappell, of two anthologies of essays, The Friend Who Got Away and Money Changes Everything. Her children’s books include 17 Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Anymore, 11 Experiments That Failed, and Sparky. She teaches in the writing programs at Queens University, Brooklyn College, and Columbia University.