Census by Jesse Ball

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“Census,” Ball’s new work, his most personal and best to date, was inspired by his brother, Abram, who had Down syndrome and endured dozens of surgeries.
-NY Times

Synopsis

NAMED ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2018 BY

The New York Times The Chicago Reader Nylon   The Boston Globe The Huffington Post • The Rumpus   The AV Club • Southern Living • The Millions • Buzzfeed

A powerful and moving new novel from an award-winning, acclaimed author: in the wake of a devastating revelation, a father and son journey north across a tapestry of towns

When a widower receives notice from a doctor that he doesn’t have long left to live, he is struck by the question of who will care for his adult son—a son whom he fiercely loves, a boy with Down syndrome. With no recourse in mind, and with a desire to see the country on one last trip, the man signs up as a census taker for a mysterious governmental bureau and leaves town with his son. 


Traveling into the country, through towns named only by ascending letters of the alphabet, the man and his son encounter a wide range of human experience. While some townspeople welcome them into their homes, others who bear the physical brand of past censuses on their ribs are wary of their presence. When they press toward the edges of civilization, the landscape grows wilder, and the towns grow farther apart and more blighted by industrial decay. As they approach “Z,” the man must confront a series of questions: What is the purpose of the census? Is he complicit in its mission? And just how will he learn to say good-bye to his son? 

Mysterious and evocative, Census is a novel about free will, grief, the power of memory, and the ferocity of parental love, from one of our most captivating young writers.

 

About Jesse Ball

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Jesse Ball (1978-) is an American poet and novelist. He is the author of Samedi the Deafness, released last year by Random House and shortlisted for the 2007 Believer Book Award. His first volume, March Book, appeared in 2004, followed by Vera & Linus (2006), and Parables and Lies (2008). His drawings were published in 2006 in Iceland in the volume Og svo kom nottin. He won the Plimpton Prize in 2008 for his novella, The Early Deaths of Lubeck, Brennan, Harp & Carr. His verse appeared in The Best American Poetry 2006. He is an assistant professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
 
Published March 6, 2018 by Ecco. 272 pages
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Census
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

LA Times

Good
Reviewed by Ellie Robins on Mar 09 2018

In this revision alone, this damning but achingly tender novel holds open a space for human redemption, never mind that we have built our systems against it.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Parul Sehgal on Mar 06 2018

“Census,” Ball’s new work, his most personal and best to date, was inspired by his brother, Abram, who had Down syndrome and endured dozens of surgeries.

Read Full Review of Census | See more reviews from NY Times

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