Reading Group Center

Explore the Unique Architecture of Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation

Jenny Offill’s novel Dept. of Speculation, built around a wife’s ruminations on love, marriage, and art, has a narrative form unlike any you’ve read. Numerous short fragments—invoking everything from Kafka to the Stoics to doomed Russian cosmonauts—brilliantly illustrate the meandering thoughts of the narrator. It’s no surprise that the novel’s innovative structure has caught the attention of fans and reviewers alike, including the folks at Slate’s Audio Book Club. They agree that it’s the key to the novel, and that it not only “accurately reflects the patchwork of [the heroine’s] life” but also gives one “the sense of a very modern mind at work.” Click here or below to listen to their podcast, in which they discuss everything from the structure and the shimmering language to the narrator’s struggle with domesticity and the marital betrayal that transforms the story.

(If you can’t view the player below, click here to listen to it on Slate‘s Audio Book Club website.)