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Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

A Novel
Narrated by: Beata Pozniak
Length: 11 hrs and 39 mins
4 out of 5 stars (28 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

WINNER OF THE NOBEL PRIZE IN LITERATURE

"A brilliant literary murder mystery." (Chicago Tribune)

"Extraordinary. Tokarczuk's novel is funny, vivid, dangerous, and disturbing, and it raises some fierce questions about human behavior. My sincere admiration for her brilliant work." (Annie Proulx)

In a remote Polish village, Janina devotes the dark winter days to studying astrology, translating the poetry of William Blake, and taking care of the summer homes of wealthy Warsaw residents. Her reputation as a crank and a recluse is amplified by her not-so-secret preference for the company of animals over humans. Then, a neighbor, Big Foot, turns up dead. Soon, other bodies are discovered, in increasingly strange circumstances. As suspicions mount, Janina inserts herself into the investigation, certain that she knows whodunit. If only anyone would pay her mind....

A deeply satisfying thriller cum fairy tale, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead is a provocative exploration of the murky borderland between sanity and madness, justice and tradition, autonomy and fate. Whom do we deem sane? it asks. Who is worthy of a voice?

©2019 Olga Tokarczuk and Antonia Lloyd-Jones (P)2019 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

"Sardonic humour and gothic plot-twists add a layer of macabre rustic comedy." (The Economist)

“Equal parts charming and inspiring. Tokarczuk, with her ability to marry the political, the philosophical, and the eccentric, creates a stirring defense of the natural world, even when it is threatened by consumerism and the Catholic Church.” (The Paris Review)

“Tokarczuk’s prescient, provocative and furiously comic fiction seethes with a Blakean conviction of the cleansing power of rage…[An] invigorating combination of the mystical, the vengeful and the domestic…elegantly subversive” (The New Statesman)

What listeners say about Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Exquisite blend of narrative and philosophy

I found Tokarczuk’s Flights didn’t work as an audiobook because it was too fragmented and aphoristic. Far better to appreciate it in print. But Plow is a triumph as an audiobooks. The narrator captures the main voice perfectly, and Tokarczuk skillfullly threads a mystery with compassionate philosophy for animals and the natural world. Can’t wait for more to be translated, and for Pozniak to tackle more of Tokarczuk’s work.

2 people found this helpful

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Superb!

This was my first exposure to Ms Tokarczuk and our narrator Ms Pozniak. My concise summary: murders are happening in a quiet hamlet of Poland and Janina, our narrating character, has significant astrological data that supports a more 'natural' if somewhat vengeful answer to why they are happening. With her friends Odd Ball, Good News, Dizzy and Boris she journeys through these events in a unique and individual way that is entertaining, fascinating and weirdly wonderful all at the same time.

I was so happy that I listened to this book. The narrator, Ms Pozniak, added depth to the main character, Janina, in a way that reading the book never could have. In her distinct accent, she set the stage for Janina and the Polish landscape in a very unique way. Her portrayal was excellent! The story was also quirky, but in a somehwat comedic and tragic sense, too. Animals with a vengeful agenda isn't new, but this story reflected so many of my own feelings towards people who hunt animals and Janina's anger provided some satisfaction for those feelings. It's a simple story, really. Neighbours find their neighbour dead, things happen to people and we're introduced to a cast of characters including some deer, some foxes, two sweet dogs and numerous other wildlife. This was more than entertaining - it was an introduction to a writer who can more than hold their own. I'm so glad that this book is getting attention and that I decided to pick it up.

1 person found this helpful

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Good, and strange

This is an odd story that gets better as it goes along. The narration is also odd—very slow, so the book is actually about half the length if it were read at a regular speed. However, the slowness suits the narrator’s accent and the main character. The ending is good, and I’ll recommend this to friends.

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dissapointing

The story was weird. I wonder if a lot was missed in translation. This would have been better read than listened to. The narration was terrible.

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  • Chris
  • 2019-09-03

Narrator - Authentic as it can get!

I read this book (and other Olga Tokarczuk's work) many years ago in Polish, in it's original language. The performance of the narrator is so authentic and as good as it can get. She voiced all the characters so perfectly that it took me back to the old country and all the people from those small villages that actually do sound like that. The exchange between Duszejko and the President's wife is powerful. The dentist's voice and how he's a little tipsy is so believable. The scenes at the police station sound so spooky and real. Beata Pozniak's voice can honestly capture the tone of those meetings and all the settings described brilliantly by Tokarczuk. The relationship with Oddball and Dizzy are performed beautifully. Wonderful to hear how Duszejko's dreams and passion for astrology are shared with others. Also, great to hear a narrator that actually pronounces all the polish words correctly. Olga Tokarczuk has an extarordinary talent to describe characters and places. Janina Duszejko is one of the best written female characters in literature. Fantastic story. Nice to go back to a book from years ago, but this time - to listen to it! Perfect and so authentic!

36 people found this helpful

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  • M&M
  • 2019-09-11

A Haunting Performance


This is one of the most unusual and brilliant books I’ve ever read or listened to. I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever encountered another book quite like this one before. Beata Pozniak’s dramatic yet subtle performance beautifully creates the haunting atmosphere this unique work so richly deserves. Her slight, lovely Polish accent lends authenticity and immediacy to the characters’ thoughts, enhancing the fable-like quality of the story. The narrator skillfully brings all the different characters vividly to life while still maintaining their sense of isolated individuality. She imbues each one with their own distinctive voice and rhythm of speaking. From the sweet, light tones of kind shopkeeper Good News, to the rough, authoritative barkings of the police commandant, to Blake-lover Dizzy’s anxious, scholarly ponderings, to Boros’ scientific patter, each character’s voice is perfectly adapted to their personality. Oddball’s slow, deep speech sounds exactly like how you would imagine a man who rarely talks would speak. The Mushroom Picker’s Ball, where the townspeople gather to celebrate Midsummer’s Eve, is especially delightful to listen to with all the different villagers’ unique ways of expressing themselves. No one’s voice is more compelling than Janina Duszejko’s, the main character who leads us through this journey. Alternately neurotic, frightened, lonely, or angry, but always impassioned and brilliant, her musings, delivered by Pozniak’s smoky, mysterious voice, weave together the eerie strands of the plot in such a way that you will feel utterly transported to another place, a bleak winter landscape where terrible and inexplicable things happen but you won’t want to leave.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Seth Combs-Henry
  • 2019-10-09

Nuanced and compelling, but anticlimactic overall

I read this based on how much I loved “Flights.” This is a much more straight-forward mystery and, as an animal lover, I found the synopsis compelling. Overall, the story is beautiful but mostly thanks to Tokarczuk’s exquisite writing and not so much because of the actual plot. It’s not that difficult to figure out the mystery, but the strength of the writing keeps the story chugging along. The narrator has a very unique voice and delivery but reads it as if she’s reading to a child. That is, it’s very slow and pronounced. I would suggest setting speed to 1.25. Overall, this is very different from “Flights,” but those who enjoyed that book will surely appreciate the writing in this one even if it is more structured and plot-driven.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Kellie without the K
  • 2019-10-09

I loved everything about this book.

Great narrator, great story to be savored and not rushed up to 120% speed rate as some suggest. This has to be savored as one would a scone and a good coffee. Slow down and enjoy! Why hurry something delicious????

7 people found this helpful

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  • Susan Delaney
  • 2019-09-17

Listened to it twice

This has turned out to be one of my favorite books. At first the narrator’s voice made me wonder if I would like it, but I grew to love her voice and the cadence of the sentences plus the story is fabulous fabulous fabulous. Strange title but a wonderful book. The title is a line from the poet Blake.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Julian
  • 2019-11-20

Not worth it

I honestly tried to follow this and even started it multiple times but for me narration and story telling is the connection of bring you to the book and if the narrator, Pozniak, is drier than sack of 1,000 year old salt I will fall asleep or get frustrated trying to find something better. If you think Stuart Langtons’ narration of “We Die Alone” is dry then we are on the same page but at least he showed some enthusiasm and I prevailed... Don’t get me wrong the story seems great and I may just read this in hard copy due to the Nobel prize but there is no bridge to this book and I guarantee if you fee the same way as I do about a strong connection, great character telling the story to win you over, then you will find this is a waste of time even if you speed up the narration to 1.25-1.5.

10 people found this helpful

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  • angela
  • 2019-10-18

The courage of those who know the true nature of love

This book is not only about a “preference” for the company of animals. It is a desperate cry in defense of their very survival. I wish I had the courage, when I was living in similar circumstances, to ask for a show of conscience on the part of the hunters (and poachers) who perpetuate the so-called tradition of human dominion over the animal world. I wish that today, I had the courage to call on those who prefer to digest the blood born of horror. But, as Tokarczuk shows, to do so is madness, and we prefer reason. It is one of the many reasons why this book is so cathartic. It allows the reader to imagine herself larger, better, kinder and stronger than what she really is. I too would like, in my dreams, to put the good of animals above my own. To do something that may acknowledge their suffering and humiliation. Tokarczuk has the consummate talent and wisdom of great writers, whose work can measure the immeasurable. She can descend what Thomas Mann called, the bottomless well of time. She takes us along and brings us back up purified, and distraught by the fact that her book must end. And we must continue without her.

10 people found this helpful

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  • amanda
  • 2019-10-08

Loved the narration

Unlike other people, I actually loved loved listening to Beata Pozniak, whose first language isn’t English. I enjoyed it so much, I will listen to it again in a month.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Donna
  • 2019-09-24

4

Way not what I expected. It has a modern,very rural setting, a retired main character with
a Polish accent ( use your narration speed toggle to find the speed for your listening ease)
Stay with this, it will be well worth
your investent. I really hope there is a sequel. Listeners looking for a quick read will not find it here.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Natasha
  • 2019-08-27

Great story, Great narration!

"Drive Your Plow" is a tour de force...a sort of wacky "Twin Peaks" meets "Murder She Wrote" that takes place in a small Polish village. The surreal atmosphere is perfectly captured by the narrator, who reflects both the international and universal qualities of the unfolding mystery. Beata Pozniak brings a strong authenticity to an array of colorful Tokarczuk characters in this unique and thrilling adventure involving animals, astrology and murder. Recommended for those who love stories with strong female characters, who rock.

14 people found this helpful