Department of Speculation by Jenny Offill

This is one of those books that is so innovative and wonderful that I almost have nothing more to say than to tell you to just read it. Almost.

Department of Speculation is a really tough book to describe. It follows the inner thoughts and feelings of a married woman, as she navigates life with her husband and her child. We never learn her name, yet we are able to connect with this wife in a way that is incredibly moving and almost magical. As readers, we are taken through this woman’s life, she recounts her happiest moments and moments that cause your heart to break. We experience her pain as her own imperfections and those of the ones closest to her are thrust into the spotlight.

Jenny Offill’s writing style is unique – this book’s chapters are atypical and separated as we experience changes in the wife’s thoughts. I want to describe it as stream of consciousness, but I still have such negative connotations to that writing style because of Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. But it’s not written at all like a typical novel, it’s almost like a long-form short story, if something like that can exist. I read this book in one afternoon, it’s not very long, but it is fantastic. I know it is one of those books that I’ll be able to read again and again, each time delving deeper into it.


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