Census
by Jesse Ball


Overview -

NAMED A RECOMMENDED BOOK 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 - Esquire

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.  Read more...


 
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More About Census by Jesse Ball
 
 
 
Overview

NAMED A RECOMMENDED BOOK 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 - Esquire

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.


 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780062676139
  • ISBN-10: 006267613X
  • Publisher: Ecco Press
  • Publish Date: March 2018
  • Page Count: 272
  • Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.85 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Dystopian
Books > Fiction > Family Life - General

 
BookPage Reviews

Inventory of a life

When a father learns his life is nearing its end, he’s left to reckon with what remains. His wife preceded him in death, and he isn’t surprised that his own is imminent. But the couple’s adult son, who has Down syndrome, will outlive him. The father wants to embrace every day he has left with his child, while also ensuring his son will be OK in a world without him.

The father, previously a doctor, signs up for a job as an unusual census taker for a secretive government bureau. The position offers the pair an excuse to do something the father and mother had long discussed: He and his son will travel the country, from municipality A to Z, and meet the country’s citizens along the way.

As the pair travels, novelist Jesse Ball slowly reveals that the trip isn’t about the census so much as the people who fill a life and a place. The unnamed father and son meet people of all sorts, some welcoming and some skeptical of the man who will mark them with a census tattoo.

Ball’s spare prose centers on the father’s inner monologue and in the process offers a glimpse of a person facing his inevitable end. “I was a better doctor for having had my son,” the father reflects, “for it left me with a basic stance—that I should not expect anything in particular from anyone, a humility vested not so much in an appraisal of myself, as in a lack of confidence in valuation and prediction.”

Census is a thoughtful, introspective novel that may leave readers contemplating the value of their own relations and inner lives.

 

This article was originally published in the March 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews