The power and charm of this debut novel is hard to describe. The compact length makes it possible to devour it in one sitting. Oddly, the heroine of the novel is never named, and we know her simply as “the wife.” A new mother, a colicky baby, faltering feelings toward her husband that she knows is a good man, a case of New York bedbugs—what could be innocuous calamities turn true and deep in the honest consuming musing of this young mother. In a language that simmers with longing and wit, this is a love story at full speed—with bracing emotional insights and piercing meditations about despair, love, and the capacious experience of motherhood. Truly, the power of Dept. of Speculation
is stunning, it’s the kind of book you pass along the second you finish it, just so you have someone to talk about it with.
February 2014 Indie Next List
“I found myself gasping at the sheer beauty and conciseness of Offill's sentences in this portrait of a marriage. Dept. of Speculation can be devoured quickly, or readers can linger in it over many sittings. Covering the topics of love, loneliness, grief, joy, fidelity, beauty, depression, mania, motherhood, and writing, the shifting points of view are subtle yet profound, and despite the darkness and sadness of the story, when I closed the book I was left more alert and attentive, and feeling more alive. Highly recommended!”
— Janet Geddis, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA
""The Wife"" once exchanged love letters with her husband, coyly postmarked the Dept. of Speculation, their code name for all the uncertainty that inheres in life and in the strangely fluid confines of a long relationship. As they confront an array of common catastrophes - the arrival of a child and, later, a lover - the Wife puzzles over the mysteries of intimacy, trust, faith, knowledge, and romantic love. With mordant wit, the Wife analyzes her predicament, offering ferocious, wry, often devastating reflections on matrimony, motherhood, artistic ambition, and the condition of universal shipwreck that presents itself to so many of us at midlife.
About the Author
Jenny Offill is the author of the novel Last Things, which was chosen as a notable or best book of the year by The New York Times, The Village Voice, and The Guardian. It was also a finalist for the Los Angeles Times First Book Award. Her short fiction has appeared in Story, Epoch, Boulevard, Significant Objects, and Electric Literature, among other places. Her children's books include 17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore and 11 Experiments That Failed. She was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and now teaches in the writing programs at Brooklyn College and Columbia University.