Red Clocks follows four women, the Mender, the Mother, the Daughter, and the Biographer, as they move through pregnancies, motherhood, and infertility in an America that has outlawed most forms of reproductive freedom. Despite this political background, the novel's central focus is on the internal legislation that governs motherhood — not the laws enacted by Congress, but the joys and recriminations every woman feels regarding pregnancy and motherhood. As the Mother, Mender, Daughter and Biographer show — in utterly compelling, distinct voices — there's no simple narrative governing the choice to carry, birth, abort or adopt a child. Each choice is fraught, and intimately tied to a self-determination constantly under threat not just from outsiders, but from our own flawed and evolving ideas of what a woman should be, or want.
Recommended By Rhianna W., Powells.com
Carefully revealing the stark realities of losing personal freedoms, Red Clocks is a story that fits exactly into its time. Following the lives of the biographer, the wife, the daughter, the mender, and the explorer, Zumas exposes the danger of fringe ideals becoming mainstream. Quiet, spare, and skillfully written, Red Clocks feels important, urgent, and terrifying. It is the nightmare you dread; you feel it hovering over you and pressing down. One of the best books of 2018, this novel is excellent. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Set in a near future where abortion is illegal in the Unites States and adoption is only available to married, straight couples, Red Clocks follows four women as they navigate the complications of these new standards of living. I have been recommending this book to everyone since it was published earlier this year. Zumas uses chapter breaks to tell the stories of all four women. Her writing is poetic and descriptive while remaining stunningly sparse at times. Some of her sentences actually made my jaw drop while reading. I think what is important about this book is that Zumas explores the vulnerabilities and fears associated with being a woman in a world that refuses to enter the intimate space those fears inhabit. But don't just take my word for it, pick up a copy. It will be worth it. Recommended By Kathleen B., Powells.com
Leni Zumas's new novel is remarkable in its humor, characterizations, and its deft way of putting you into a world whose dystopia is too close to our own. This is an important and amazingly readable book. Recommended By Doug C., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Five women. One question. What is a woman for?
In this ferociously imaginative novel, abortion is once again illegal in America, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers alongside age-old questions surrounding motherhood, identity, and freedom.
Ro, a single high-school teacher, is trying to have a baby on her own, while also writing a biography of Eivør, a little-known 19th-century female polar explorer. Susan is a frustrated mother of two, trapped in a crumbling marriage. Mattie is the adopted daughter of doting parents and one of Ro's best students, who finds herself pregnant with nowhere to turn. And Gin is the gifted, forest-dwelling herbalist, or "mender," who brings all their fates together when she's arrested and put on trial in a frenzied modern-day witch hunt.
Red Clocks is at once a riveting drama, whose mysteries unfold with magnetic energy, and a shattering novel of ideas. In the vein of Margaret Atwood and Eileen Myles, Leni Zumas fearlessly explores the contours of female experience, evoking The Handmaid's Tale for a new millennium. This is a story of resilience, transformation, and hope in tumultuous-even frightening-times.
"Move over Atwood, Leni Zumas's Red Clocks is a gender roaring tour de force. The bodies of women in Red Clocks are each the site of resistance and revolution. I screamed out loud. I pumped my fist in the air. And I remembered how hope is forged from the ground up, through the bodies of women who won't be buried." Lidia Yuknavitch
"In bristling sentences, Zumas shows girls and women defying the excruciating restrictions imposed by both law and culture. Red Clocks is unabashedly political and fiercely humane." Emily Fridlund, author of History of Wolves
"Leni Zumas here proves she can do almost anything. Her tale feels part Melvillian, part Lydia Davis, part Octavia Butler-but really Zumas's vision is entirely her own. RED CLOCKS is funny, mordant, political, poetic, alarming, and inspiring-not to mention a way forward for fiction now." Maggie Nelson
Leni Zumas on PowellsBooks.Blog
, Leni Zumas’s fascinating second novel, follows four women, the Mender, the Mother, the Daughter, and the Biographer, as they move through the life stages of pregnancy, motherhood, and infertility. In their small seaside town, the Mother raises her kids and envies the Biographer's freedom. The Biographer researches the first female polar explorer...