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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
Categories: Fiction, Humor
4 out of 5 stars (40 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Finalist for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize

"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

Critic Reviews

"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 members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • M&M
  • BLOOMINGTON, CA, US
  • 09-11-19

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.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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I can’t, I just can’t

I wanted to like this book, I really did, but, after listening or trying to listen to about 1/3 of it, I just couldn’t go any further. It sounded like something I would have liked, but, noooo. The narrator was really good, but very s-l-o-w. You can easily remedy that however by speeding up to 1.25x. This book was not for me but I feel it does have a palace among a certain listener.

5 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Lovely musings, terrible narrator.

What did the director have in mind when they cast a narrator who not only was not a native English speaker, but red like someone who was just learning to read the alphabet?
The writer is extremely amusing and takes a very narrow plot and extends it with the insane ramblings of the featured character. And unlike the New York times I enjoyed the astrological side bars.
But to even listen to this I needed to push the speed of the narrator up to about 120%. and that could hardly hold my attention most of the time with the deep long pauses and the strange sounding-out confusion of the spoken voice.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful