Shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2019
… I dreamt last night about somebody complaining that he owned a “lesser Cézanne” while I was tearing heartshaped buttons off a shirt, and something about a ferret, the fact that my dreams have become more practical and less expansive, I think, since we got poorer, the fact that I should be swinging wild but instead my dreams are just about tidying the hen coop or unloading the dishwasher, or losing my address book, or I’m cooking noodles for everybody and Leo has a plane to catch in half an hour and there’s no taxi, or I find myself on a bicycle carrying a huge box, the fact that once I dreamt I ate one tiny piece of ham, and that was it, that was the whole dream, the fact that I dream all the wrong stuff and remember all the wrong stuff, what a goofball, “a genuine idiot,” the fact that why do I remember that Amish wool shop and not my mom, …
Latticing one cherry pie after another, an Ohio housewife tries to bridge the gaps between reality and the torrent of meaningless info that is the United States of America. She worries about her children, her dead parents, African elephants, the bedroom rituals of “happy couples”, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and how to hatch an abandoned wood pigeon egg. Is there some trick to surviving survivalists? School shootings? Medical debts? Franks ’n’ beans?
A scorching indictment of America’s barbarity, past and present, and a lament for the way we are sleepwalking into environmental disaster, Ducks, Newburyport is a heresy, a wonder—and a revolution in the novel. It’s also very, very funny.