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Census

Census

Jesse Ball

  • awardShortlisted, Gordon Burn Prize, United Kingdom, 2018
  • 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.

    INTERVIEWS

    Rumpus 

    REVIEWS 

    Australian Book Review 
    Bait for Bookworms blog 
    Bookmunch blog 
    Guardian 
    Lifted Brow 
    Otago Daily Times, June 2018
    NY Times 
    Radio NZ, Nine to Noon 
    Washington Post
     

    Jesse Ball
    About the Author

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

    Read Moreright
    Extent:
    272pp
    Format:
    Paperback
    Text publication date:
    2 April 2018
    ISBN:
    9781925603446
    AU Price:
    $29.99
    NZ Price:
    $37.00
    Themes:
    down syndrome, road trip, family relationships
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    Praise for Jesse Ball
    andCensus

    ‘A young genius who hits all of the right notes.’

    ‘Jesse Ball [is] among our most compelling and daring writers today.’

    Census is a vital testament to selfless love; a psalm to commonplace miracles; and a mysterious evolving metaphor. So kind, it aches.’

    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.’ 

    ‘A poet by trade, Ball understands the economy of language better than most fiction writers today.’

    ‘Explore with Ball, fall into his quirky rhythms, and you’ll discover a burning plea for empathy. It will break your heart.’

    ‘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.’

    ‘This novel is a devastatingly powerful call for understanding and compassion.’

    ‘Some books resonate more deeply than others; they don’t merely reflect the world we’re presented with, but instead they refashioned it, even warp it, revealing essential truths. Ball’s poignant dedication to his late older brother Adam, who had Down syndrome, adds yet another layer of complexity to this surreal and powerful story.’

    Census is an odd, poignant, vitalizing novel well worth the journey.’

    ‘An understated feat, a book that says more than enough simply by saying, “Look, this is how some people are.”’

    ‘This is a book that will give you an expanded sense of what it means to have compassion, and what it means to love.’

    ‘Absorbing, reflective and deeply moving, Census is the most necessary kind of book — one that urges us to see and feel with all the wonder that the world deserves.’

    ‘What could be a sentimental or treacly parable Ball transforms into a thrilling, imaginative work that explores both the limits and powers of language and empathy.’

    ‘What’s impressive about Jesse Ball is not just how prolific he is—and he’s most certainly that; he is not yet 40 and has written 14 books, including six novels, since 2004—but how good and, more importantly, human his works are. The author consistently crafts high-concept fabulist tales with sensitivity and quiet poetry.’

    ‘There are glimpses in here of The Road and of the zany travels in Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, but in a style that is Ball’s very own. Census is the phantasmagoric road trip that breaks your heart in more ways than one and leaves you all the better for it.’

    ‘It’s an emotional book that honors Jesse Ball’s own brother, who had Down syndrome and passed away 20 years ago.’

    Census is a deeply humane and tender novel, brimming with compassion, deep and original though, sweetness and, yes, even humour…An astoundingly good book.’

    ‘I defy anyone not to read its final pages through tears.’

    ‘A dying man and his disabled son travel as census takers in Jesse Ball’s thoughtful, dystopian-influenced novel. Written in part as an ode to the author’s late brother, the book explores the human experience for both caretakers and the people who crave care, as the duo traverses the country tabulating and tattooing citizens for a mysterious government agency.’

    ‘In a world beset by untrustworthy government leaders, a book about a mysterious government bureau keeping track of a nation’s population feels both terrifying and completely within the real of possibility. And that’s exactly what I felt when reading Jesse Ball’s strange and wonderful new novel, Census…A melancholy and grief-filled book, Census also serves a healthy helping of compassion. I highly recommend it for fans of Paul Auster and Samantha Hunt.’

    ‘A powerful meditation on grief, weaving a father-son tale that proves as captivating as it is haunting.’

    ‘A powerful and moving new novel.’

    ‘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.’

    ‘An understated feat, a book that says more than enough simply by saying, “look, this is how some people are.”’

    ‘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.”’

    ‘Each new book from Jesse Ball reveals a new facet of his abilities as a writer; each one takes bold structural risks even as it ventures into heart-rending territories.’

    Census is a novel about everything big, told in the miniature, heart-wrenching tableau of a census. We are grazed by the notion that something is a bit different in this world, breathing down our necks. These characters jump from the page into life, and a transformative journey is undertaken for both the reader and the characters.’

    ‘Holds questions at every turn.’

    ‘Absorbing, reflective and deeply moving, Census is the most necessary kind of book—one that urges us to see and feel with all the wonder that the world deserves.’

    ‘What could be a sentimental or treacly parable Ball transforms into a thrilling, imaginative work that explores both the limits and powers of language and empathy.’ 

    ‘His [Ball’s] latest mysterious, mesmerising, and insightful fairy tale is an imaginative and tender tribute to his late brother, who had Down syndrome…Ball’s mind-bending, gorgeously well told, and profoundly moving fable celebrates a father’s love for his son, whose quintessence is to inspire people to be their better selves.’

    Census, Ball’s eighth and latest novel, may be his most emotionally affecting book to date…a profound and stirring meditation on love, loss and paternity.’

    Census is the phantasmagoric road trip that breaks your heart in more ways than one and leaves you all the better for it.’

    ‘A beautiful story of two people trying to make their way through a world that is sometimes cruel or indifferent to beauty.’

    ‘A detailed and moving portrayal of a kind of radical innocence, one that brings both the cruelty and the kindness in the world around it into sharp focus. For me, it was the most powerful of the many surprises in this unusual, impressive novel.’

    ‘An absurdist metaphysical parable, reminiscent of Beckett, Kafka, or Calvino…[Ball] is one of America’s most interesting high-concept voices.’

    ‘A wonderfully moving tribute to an obviously loved sibling.’

    ‘Its hopefulness is endearing, its purity shines…warrants a re-read.’

    ‘He is skilfully rendered; observed through the eyes of his father, who is deeply attuned to his son’s moods and tendencies […] There is nothing condescending in how father describes son. It is joyful, honest, funny, smart. Again, I returned to the foreword, and considered how magnificently Ball celebrates his brother’s memory.’

    ‘Part epic poem, part family history; Ball has crafted something unique and enduring.’

    ‘A novel you feel you want to get a grip on before it gets a grip on you.’

    ‘Quietly moving.’

    Other editions ofCensus
    • Census
      ebook
      ISBN: 9781925626483
      2 April 2018
      Buy ebook