Dept. of Speculation | Granta

Dept. of Speculation

Jenny Offill

They used to send each other letters. The return address was always the same: Dept. of Speculation.

They used to be young, brave, and giddy with hopes for their future. They got married, had a child, and skated through all the small calamities of family life. But then, slowly, quietly something changes. As the years rush by, fears creep in and doubts accumulate until finally their life as they know it cracks apart and they find themselves forced to reassess what they have lost, what is left, and what they want now.

Written with the dazzling lucidity of poetry, Dept. of Speculation navigates the jagged edges of a modern marriage to tell a story that is darkly funny, surprising and wise.

  • Published: 05/03/2015
  • Paperback
  • ISBN: 9781847088741
  • 128x20mm, 192 pages

Offill's slender and cannily paced novel, her second, assembles fragments, observations, meditations and different points of view to chart the course of a troubled marriage. Wry and devastating in equal measure, the novel is a cracked mirror that throws light in every direction - on music and literature; science and philosophy; marriage and motherhood and infidelity; and especially love and the grueling rigors of domestic life. Part elegy and part primal scream, it's a profound and unexpectedly buoyant performance

10 Best Books of the Year, The New York Times

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

With exceptional originality, intensity and sweetness [...] Dept. of Speculation is 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

John Self, Guardian

The Author

Jenny Offill‘s novel Dept. of Speculation was shortlisted for the Folio Prize and the International Dublin Literary Award, and was chosen as a book of the year over 20 times, including by the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, FT, Daily Mail, Stylist, Observer and Vogue. She is also the author of the novel Last Things, and four books for children. She lives upstate New York with her family.

More about the author →

From the Same Author

Weather

‘What are you afraid of, he asks me and the answer of course is dentistry, humiliation, scarcity, then he says what are your most useful skills? People think I’m funny’

Lizzie Benson slid into her job as a librarian without a traditional degree. But this gives her a vantage point from which to practise her other calling: as an unofficial shrink. For years, she has supported her God-haunted mother and her recovering addict brother. They have both stabilized for the moment, but then her old mentor, Sylvia Liller, makes a proposal. Sylvia has become famous for her prescient podcast, Hell and High Water, and wants to hire Lizzie to answer the mail she receives: from left-wingers worried about climate change and right wingers worried about the decline of western civilization.

As she dives into this polarized world, she begins to wonder what it means to keep tending your own garden once you’ve seen the flames beyond its walls. When her brother becomes a father and Sylvia a recluse, Lizzie is forced to acknowledge the limits of what she can do. But if she can’t save others, then what, or who, might save her?

And all the while the voices of the city keep floating in–funny, disturbing, and increasingly mad.

Jenny Offill on Granta.com

Five Things Right Now | The Online Edition

Five Things Right Now: Jenny Offill

Jenny Offill

Jenny Offill, author of Dept. of Speculation, shares five things she’s reading, watching and thinking about.