Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, by Olga Tokarczuk, Translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones (Books 2020, 4)
I like this quote from near the end:
The fact that we don’t know what’s going to happen in the future is a terrible mistake in the programming of the world. It should be fixed at the first opportunity.
When I read Tokarczuk’s Flights at the start of last year, it was actually this one that had led me to her. Warren Ellis recommended it in his newsletter, if I remember correctly, and the title intrigued me. What I didn’t realise then was that the title is a quote from William Blake: “Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead,” he says, in Proverbs of Hell. With that spelling, I note.
Apparently it caused a great fuss when it was published in Poland. I don’t understand why, but cultures are different.
Unlike Flights, it’s a complete, single story. It’s also much simpler. The narrator is an interesting character, though her practice of astrology adds nothing to the story and gets in its way to an extent.
Each chapter has a quote from Blake as an epigraph. I don’t think she used the thirteenth proverb of hell, though it could be seen as the narrator’s north star:
All wholesome food is caught without a net or a trap.