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Red Clocks (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Leni Zumas' writing hums with an energy that I can't quite put my finger on except to say that I didn't want to put this book down. One could begin to talk about this novel through its premise: abortion has been made illegal, personhood is now declared at conception, in vitro fertilization is also illegal as a result. But it feels truer to start talking about this novel with its characters, to say that Red Clocks is about four women leading their lives in a small town, much the same way that I am leading a life in a small town. Their lives are vastly different from each other's, but what they share is that they are all in one way or another trapped by their circumstances, longing for freedom under a system defined by the absence of choice. I loved these characters, felt their heartbreak and their frustrations and desires in such a deep way. Brilliant and nuanced, Red Clocks is a fiercely feminist exploration of the multitude of ways in which women seek meaningful lives under the limits of a patriarchal system that is dangerously close to our own.

— From Kelsey's Picks

February 2018 Indie Next List

“I never understood what it meant for someone's writing to be 'lyrical' until I picked up Red Clocks. With beautiful prose, Leni Zumas tells the story of a young girl seeking an abortion in a world where abortion is illegal and dangerous; a woman on the quest to have children when in-vitro fertilization is illegal and folks aren't allowed to adopt without a partner; a woman in a dead-end marriage desperate to escape from her husband and children; and a woman considered a witch by most who provides homeopathic reproductive healthcare, including illegal abortions. Zumas beautifully weaves these stories together and gives each individual a strong and unique voice, while also maintaining suspended disbelief. These characters felt real and this world felt possible. I suspect this will be one of the best books published in 2018.”
— Hanna Foster, Book People Bookstore, Austin, TX


A National Bestseller
A New York Times Editor's Choice
An Amazon Best Book of the Month

An Indie Next Pick
One of Wall Street Journal's Twelve Books to Read This Winter
An Esquire most anticipated book of 2018
An Elle Best Book of Winter
A Popsugar most anticipated book of Fall
A Ploughshares most anticipated book of Fall
A Nylon Best Book of the Month
One of Publishers Weekly's most anticipated titles of Fall 2017

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 Eiv r, 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.

About the Author

Leni Zumas is the author of the story collection Farewell Navigator and the novel The Listeners, which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. She is an associate professor in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Portland State University.

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780316434812
ISBN-10: 0316434817
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Publication Date: January 16th, 2018
Pages: 368
Language: English