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Jenny Offill

‘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.

  • Published: 13/02/2020
  • Ebook
  • ISBN: 9781783784783
  • 224 pages

This is so good. We are not ready nor worthy

Ocean Vuong

'As soon as I finished [Dept. of Speculation], I turned it over and started again. Stunning'

Maggie O’Farrell

The end times don't deserve such exquisite literary investigation. I folded down every page until I realised there was no point, I would fold them all, I would read the book again the second I was finished. A gorgeous, funny, deadly serious and warmly revelatory mesh of perfect paragraphs

Max Porter

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

Dept. of Speculation

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.

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.