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Golden Hour Books

Dept. of Speculation: A Novel by Jenny Offill

Dept. of Speculation: A Novel by Jenny Offill

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From the acclaimed author of Weather comes a slim, stunning portrait of a marriage--a beguiling rumination on the mysteries of intimacy, trust, faith, knowledge, and the condition of universal shipwreck that unites us all.


A Best Book of the Year: The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, Minneapolis Star Tribune,, Electric Literature, Buzzfeed

In the beginning, it was easy to imagine their future. They were young and giddy, sure of themselves and of their love for each other. “Dept. of Speculation” was their code name for all the thrilling uncertainties that lay ahead. Then they got married, had a child and navigated the familiar calamities of family life—a colicky baby, a faltering relationship, stalled ambitions.

When their marriage reaches a sudden breaking point, the wife tries to retrace the steps that have led them to this place, invoking everything from Kafka to the Stoics to doomed Russian cosmonauts as she analyzes what is lost and what remains. In language that shimmers with rage and longing and wit, Offill has created a brilliantly suspenseful love story—a novel to read in one sitting, even as its piercing meditations linger long after the last page.More Praise for Dept. of Speculation
"Riveting.... Unsentimental.... Paragraphs shatter, surreal details rise up and into the narrative.... A jewel of a book, a novel as funny, honest, and beguiling as any I have read." --Darcey Steinke, Los Angeles Times
"Introspective and resonant.... Brave.... Offill uses her novel to explore the question of how to be an artist as well as a wife and mother, when these states can feel impossibly contradictory.... She's willing to put it all on the page, the mundane alongside the profound, revealing that they're not quite as different as we might have thought." --San Francisco Chronicle
"It may be difficult to truly know what happens between two people, but Offill gets alarmingly close.... Offill moves quickly and poetically over deeply introspective questions about long-term partnerships, parenthood, and aging.... From deep within the interiors of a fictional marriage, Offill has crafted an account of matrimony and motherhood that breaks free of the all-too-limiting traditional stories of wives and mothers." --The Atlantic
"Dept. of Speculation is a startling feat of storytelling--an intense and witty meditation on motherhood, infidelity, and identity, each line a dazzling, perfectly chiseled arrowhead aimed at your heart." --Vanity Fair
"Absorbing and highly readable.... Tell[s] the story of the fragile nature of anyone's domestic life.... Intriguing, beautifully written, sly, and often profound." --NPR
"Gives us the hurrahs and boos of daily life, of marriage and of parenthood, with exceptional originality, intensity, and sweetness.... A shattered novel that stabs and sparkles at the same time. It is the kind of book that you will be quoting over and over to friends who don't quite understand, until they give in and read it too." --The Guardian (London)
"Jenny Offill's mini marvel of a novel, about an urban marriage in crisis, unfolds in tart, tiny chapters suffused with pithy philosophical musings, scientific tidbits, and poetic sayings that collectively guide a brainy, beleaguered couple through the tricky emotional terrain of their once wondrous, now wobbly union." --Elle
"Jenny Offill's Dept. of Speculation resembles no book I've read before. If I tell you that it's funny, and moving, and true; that it's as compact and mysterious as a neutron; that it tells a profound story of love and parenthood while invoking (among others) Keats, Kafka, Einstein, Russian cosmonauts, and advice for the housewife of 1897, will you please simply believe me, and read it?" --Michael Cunningham
"Piercingly honest.... A series of wry vignettes that deepen movingly." --Vogue
"A serious and good novel.... There is as much wisdom to be found in its pithy riddles and maxims as in a thousand-page epic." --The Daily Beast
"Hilarious, poignant.... So beautifully written that it begs multiple reads.... Soul-bearing fiction at its best.... Dept. of Speculation doesn't just resign itself to the disappointment of failed dreams that crop up in middle age. Instead, endurance to the end of a crisis generates wisdom, hope, and, perhaps, even art." --Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Marvelously huge in insight and honesty.... Dept. of Speculation paints a masterful portrait of the nuts and the bolts and the warts and the silky splendor that defines commitment.... A quick, beautiful read that will draw out joy just as quickly as sadness, and may even cause one to pause and then wonder, and then to finally embrace both the misery and the magic of marriage." --New York Journal of Books
"Dept. of Speculation is gorgeous, funny, a profound and profoundly moving work of art. Jenny Offill is a master of form and feeling, and she gets life on the page in new, startling ways." --Sam Lipsyte
"A heartbreaking and exceptional book by a writer who doesn't settle for less. Sad, funny, philosophical, at once deeply poetic and deeply engaging, this is a brilliant, soulful elegy to the hardships and joys of married life." --Lydia Millet
"Dept. of Speculation is a deep, funny, and beautifully written novel. It is a moving and intelligent story of a specific marriage, but it is also very much about how it feels to be alive right now. Jenny Offill perfectly captures the absurdities and ironies of our moment." --Dana Spiotta

Jenny Offill is the author of the novel Last Things, which was chosen as a Notable Book of the Year by The New York Times and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times First Book Award. She teaches in the writing programs at Queens University, Brooklyn College, and Columbia University.
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