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by Jesse Ball


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'Jesse Ball [is] among our most compelling and daring writers today.' LA Review of Books

When a widower receives notice from a doctor that he doesn't have long to live, he is struck by the question of who will care for his adult son—a son whom he fiercely loves, a son 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.

Census is a novel about free will, grief, the power of memory and the ferocity of parental love, from one of America's most captivating young writers.

Jesse Ball (1978–). Novelist, absurdist. Born in New York. His many and varied works are beloved in a dozen languages.

'In eight novels produced in just over a decade, [Ball] has combined Kafka's paranoia with Whitman's earnest American grain to found a fictional kingdom of genial doom and melancholia...Census, Ball's new work, [is] his most personal and best to date...Think The Road by Cormac McCarthy with Ball's signature surreal flourishes...I can think of no higher praise for this novel than to echo what this woman tells the father for travelling with his son, for letting the world experience his gift: "I think you cannot know the good you do."' New York Times

'Ball indulges our natural curiosity about what's real and simultaneously repudiates the idea that it matters. This is a writer too interested in the transformative power of language to come down on one banal side or the other.' Age

'Census is a vital testament to selfless love; a psalm to commonplace miracles; and a mysterious evolving metaphor. So kind, it aches.' David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas

'A young genius who hits all of the right notes.' Chicago Tribune

'A poet by trade, Ball understands the economy of language better than most fiction writers today.' Huffington Post

'Quietly moving' Australian

'With echoes of Paul Auster and Cormac McCarthy, Jesse Ball's road novel is anything but traditional. The prolific, award-winning author tells the story of a father and his son who has Down syndrome, bringing out their connection in luminous and unexpected ways.' Entertainment Weekly

'A powerful and moving new novel.' Chicago Review of Books, Best New Books of March 2018

'Emotionally riveting and shot through with the most pressing issues of our time, Ball's exploration of humanity in modern America is not to be missed.' Pop Sugar, 20 Best New Books to Read in March

'An understated feat, a book that says more than enough simply by saying, "look, this is how some people are."' Washington Post

'Ball takes us on a dark journey into a troubled world, where the census taker leaves a tattoo on each individual's rib...He ends with a heartbreaking farewell: the future, the father sees, is "his, and not mine."' BBC, Ten Books to Read in March

'This novel is a devastatingly powerful call for understanding and compassion.' Publishers Weekly, Picks of the Week

'Census is an odd, poignant, vitalising novel well worth the journey.' LA Review of Books

'I defy anyone not to read its final pages through tears.' Daily Mail UK

'It is joyful, honest, funny, smart. Again, I returned to the foreword, and considered how magnificently Ball celebrates his brother's memory.' Lifted Brow

'An absurdist metaphysical parable, reminiscent...

Publication Details

The Text Publishing Company
Text Publishing
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