Set against the backdrop of a coastal Oregon fishing village, in a near-future complete with legislation limiting female reproductive rights, RED CLOCKS exquisitely braids the stories of five different women who share one thing in common: they’re all grappling with the issue of motherhood in some way as they explore the questio: What is a woman for?
by Leni Zumas
Lee Boudreaux Books (Little, Brown), TBA
Agent: DeFiore Literary Agency
Ro is a single teacher and biographer who is trying, and failing, to conceive (while writing a book about a little-known 19th century female polar ice explorer, Eivør). Her friend Susan is a wife, former lawyer and frustrated mother of two in a crumbling marriage. Mattie is a beloved daughter to adopted parents and one of Ro’s best students, who suddenly finds herself pregnant with nowhere to turn. And Gin is the homeopathically gifted mender who connects them all when she is unfairly put on trial in a frenzied rendition of modern witch-hunt.
RED CLOCKS calls to mind everything from the offbeat feminism of Eileen Myles and Miranda July to the quirky inventiveness of Sam Lipsyte and Gil Sorrentino to the urgent lyricism of Jayne Anne Phillips. Leni Zumas calls each of her characters by name, but also by moniker, throughout the book, and she gorgeously highlights each of their individual voices with particular narrative tics that surprise and fascinate (the biographer catalogues words rhyming with “womb”; the daughter randomly recites the weights of various animals’ hearts).
As much a novel of characters and place as a novel of ideas, RED CLOCKS not only asks what a woman is for, but also what a legacy is, what art is, what healing is, and what it truly means to bear witness to one another’s narratives.
Leni Zumas is the author of the novel THE LISTENERS (Tin House, 2012), which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. Her work appears multiple literary journals. She has received fellowships from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Regional Arts & Culture Council, the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She is an assistant professor in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Portland State University.