Deb Olin Unferth
Two auditors for the US egg industry go rogue and conceive a plot to steal a million chickens in the middle of the night-an entire egg farm’s worth of animals. Janey and Cleveland-a spirited former runaway and the officious head of audits-assemble a precarious, quarrelsome team and descend on the farm on a dark spring evening. A series of catastrophes ensues.
Deb Olin Unferth’s wildly inventive but utterly plausible novel is a heist story of a very unusual sort. Swirling with a rich array of voices, Barn 8 takes readers into the minds of these renegades: a farmer’s daughter, a former director of undercover investigations, hundreds of activists, a forest ranger who suddenly comes upon forty thousand hens, and a security guard who is left on an empty farm for years. There are glimpses twenty thousand years into the future to see what chickens might evolve into on our contaminated planet. We hear what hens think happens when they die. In the end the cracked hearts of these indelible characters, their earnest efforts to heal themselves, and their radical actions will lead them to ruin or revelation.
Funny, whimsical, philosophical, and heartbreaking, Barn 8 ultimately asks: What constitutes meaningful action in a world so in need of change? Unferth comes at this question with striking ingenuity, razor-sharp wit, and ferocious passion. Barn 8 is a rare comic-political drama, a tour de force for our time.
'Barn 8 is a novel like no other: An urgent moral fantasia, a post-human parable, a tender portrait of animal dignity and genius.' Dana Spiotta ---- 'Deb Olin Unferth's hilarious genius is on dazzling display in this novel. Come for the brilliant insights about our faltering civilization. Stay for the revolutionaries and the chickens. You are really really going to love these chickens . . .' Jenny Offill ---- 'Like Flannery O'Connor, Deb Olin Unferth does things entirely her own way, and that way is impossible to describe. . . . This very funny and absurd novel is also as serious as the world.' Zachary Lazar ---- 'I leap to read anything Deb Olin Unferth writes, and her latest book, Barn 8, is further proof of her singular talent, her gigantic heart. While Unferth's characters try to save hens, her miracle of a novel might, in turn, save you.' R.O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries ----Praise for Wait Till you See me Dance ----'This assemblage of down-and-out moments is delivered with a wit and concision reminiscent of Lydia Davis and Diane Williams, a wry intelligence and keen irony that don't prevent Unferth's prose from offering deep emotional intimacy. . . . Unferth's book is rich with surprises, small and large. . . . Again and again in these pages, Unferth swerves from the mundane to the extraordinary, from biting to soaringly celebratory, often in a single sentence.' The New York Times Book Review ----'One of the most important voices in fiction's long-awaited collection of short fiction is a fascinating must-read.' Newsweek---- '[Unferth's] absurd and tender story collection is full of sentences like clear glass doors, and you, reader, are the bird. . . . The way she writes [her characters] is reminiscent of the unsentimental, often absurd, compassion of George Saunders. . . . The multiplicity of feeling is wonderful; it's like she's swirling all these different colors of paint together but stops while it's all still just thinly marbled together.' NPR ---- 'No one can resist Unferth's masterful distortion of the American dream with a set of unforgettable mistake-makers who aren't quite past redemption.' Courtney Maum, CNN Travel
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