What started out as a really sweet family study turned into a pretty painful read. Offill has been there ("there" being the depths of marital disaster) — that's clear — and has captured this slice of domestic drama with something that I can only describe as an aching tenderness. Small and slight vignettes are layered again and again to make up this gorgeous little novel. Beautifully done. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
""The Wife"" once exchanged love letters with her husband, coyly postmarked the Dept. of Speculation, their code name for all the uncertainty that inheres in life and in the strangely fluid confines of a long relationship. As they confront an array of common catastrophes - the arrival of a child and, later, a lover - the Wife puzzles over the mysteries of intimacy, trust, faith, knowledge, and romantic love. With mordant wit, the Wife analyzes her predicament, offering ferocious, wry, often devastating reflections on matrimony, motherhood, artistic ambition, and the condition of universal shipwreck that presents itself to so many of us at midlife.
""Exquisitely honed and vibrant...Offill's lean prose and the addition of astute quotations prevent the text from becoming just one more story of an infidelity...The reader easily identifies with [the narrator's] struggles and frustrations...An enlightened choice for a reading group."" - Library Journal
""A heartbreaking and exceptional book by a writer who doesn't settle for less - I've been longing for a new novel from Jenny Offill since her stunning Last Things, and it was worth every bit of the wait. 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
""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 1896, will you please simply believe me, and read it?"" - Michael Cunningham
""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
""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
Acclaimed author Jenny Offill paints a beguiling and utterly unflinching portrait of a marriage.
About the Author
Jenny Offill is the author of the novel Last Things, which was chosen as a notable or best book of the year by The New York Times, The Village Voice, and The Guardian. It was also a finalist for the Los Angeles Times First Book Award. Her short fiction has appeared in Story, Epoch, Boulevard, Significant Objects, and Electric Literature, among other places. Her children's books include 17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore and 11 Experiments That Failed. She was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and now teaches in the writing programs at Brooklyn College and Columbia University.