One of the most original voices in American literature
by Jesse Ball
HarperCollins / Ecco, March 2018
Agent: Sterling Lord
*BEST YOUNG AMERICAN NOVELIST 2016, GRANTA!
*A 2016 GUGGENHEIM FELLOWSHIP WINNER!
*WON THE 2008 PARIS REVIEW PLIMPTON PRIZE!
*LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD IN 2015!
Earning comparisons to some of the most singular stylists in the canon—Kafka, Bernhard, Ishiguro—Ball’s gently subversive, determinedly moral oeuvre has revealed itself to be an ever expanding world of shadowed mysteries that exist out of time and place. He has created an alternative plain in which allegory, shifting identities and elusive redemption cast an indirect, necessary light on the often tawdry priorities that often guide the American vision of the world.
His newest novel, Census, supported by the Guggenheim Foundation and the Creative Capital Foundation, arrives with colossal anticipation. It is a courageous creation and his most personal work to date. The novel follows the travels of a father and son who are census takers across a tapestry of towns in the wake of the father’s fatal diagnosis. Knowing that his time is menacingly short, the father takes his son, who requires close and constant adult guidance, on a trip of indefinite length, their feelings for each other challenged and bolstered as they move in and out of a variety of homes.
The book stems from Jesse’s experience as a brother to a Down syndrome boy, and the story of this journey is a bracing corrective to the frequently cruel and problematic treatment of the condition. Jesse is writing with unprecedented force and conviction about the most elemental challenges we all face: the inevitability of suffering and the grace and wonder that fuel the compassion that is expressed by those who withstand it. It’s a tender, wrenching and furious novel about what it means to be alive and it gets to these elemental stakes in a way no other writer could. As kindness and tragedy weave in and out of view, locked in their endless struggle, Jesse has written a category-defying, deeply felt tribute to our better natures that will leave an enduring mark on our literature.
Jesse Ball is the author of fourteen books, most recently the novel “How to Set a Fire” and “Why”. His works have been published to acclaim in many parts of the world and translated into more than a dozen languages. He is on the faculty at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, won the 2008 Paris Review Plimpton Prize, was longlisted for the National Book Award, and has been a fellow of the NEA, Creative Capital, and the Guggenheim Foundation. His website is: www.jesseball.com