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Ducks, Newburyport

Category: Book
By (author): Ellmann, Lucy
Subject:  FICTION / Contemporary Women
  FICTION / Family Life
  FICTION / General
  FICTION / Literary
Audience: general/trade
Publisher: Biblioasis
Published: September 2019
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 1040
Size: 8.50in x 5.50in x 1.75in
Our Price:
$ 28.95
In stock

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*

An Observer 2019 Fiction Pick

A 2019 Herald Scotland Book to Watch For

A Publishers Weekly Big Book of Winter Institute 14

Peeling apples for tartes tatin, an Ohio mother wonders how to exist in a world of distraction and fake facts, besieged by a tweet-happy president and trigger-happy neighbors, all of them oblivious to what Dupont has dumped into the rivers and what's happening at the factory farm down the interstate-not to mention what was done to the land's first inhabitants. A torrent of consciousness, narrated in a single sentence by a woman whose wandering thoughts are as comfortably familiar as they are heartrendingly honest, Ducks, Newburyport is a fearless indictment of our contemporary moment.

Review Quote*


"A wildly ambitious and righteously angry portrait of contemporary America." -The Observer

"Ulysses has nothing on this … Once you get going, you'll be too absorbed to stop." -Cosmopolitan

" deep and broad and beautiful and American as the Grand Canyon. Because this torrent spills from the mind of one ordinary woman (an Ohioan, a wife, a mom, a baker of pies), because she's hilarious, because her doubts and deprecations, her fondnesses and fears, are so mundane and relatable, because she exists as one of the truest-to-life fictional characters you could ever hope to meet, this book probably won't get the credit it deserves, credit for originality, insight, and literary excellence. Which is a shame, because Ducks, Newburyport is a domestic national epic to set beside Moby-Dick, a corrosive comic cultural indictment to compare with William Gaddis's National Book Award-winning J R. Read it and weep from laughter and righteous anger." -James Crossley, Madison Books (Seattle, WA)

"A contemporary Molly Bloom soliloquy, a paginated lioness, a corrective, a challenge, a Moby-Dick of the kitchen…In 2019's most ambitious novel Ellmann puts us in the mind of one of literature's most neglected characters; an average woman and mother doing her best in a world that respects neither women nor mothers. Rambunctiously political, tenderly personal, and profoundly humanist, Ellmann's simple respect for her protagonist's thoughts, feelings, faults, & successes is revolutionary. And on top of everything else in this towering achievement of a novel, you'll find yourself desperately rooting for a mountain lion." -Josh Cook, Porter Square Books (Cambridge, MA)

"A stunning and brutal portrait of social and psychological dysfunction in Donald Trump's America as told through an exhaustive catalog of an Ohio mother's endless anxieties alternating with the story of a mountain lioness caring for and protecting her new pups in a country hostile to wilderness. At times challenging, and alternately profound and upsetting, I've never read anything quite like it. Lucy Ellman?s ambitious, 700 page new book is either insane or brilliant or maybe both." -Josh Niesse, Underground Books (Chattahoochee Hills, GA)

"Far more than the typical examination of contemporary domestic life, Ducks, Newburyport is a poetic observation and haunting account of what it's like to be a woman in Trump's America and the messiness of everyday existence. A rare mix of witty and visceral, Ellmann is an effortlessly gifted writer that deserves all of our attention. It would take me at least 700 pages to detail how brilliant this book is."-Cristina Rodriguez, Deep Vellum Books (Dallas, TX)

"The fact that Ducks, Newburyport is over 700 pages, nearly all of which is a single sentence, should not daunt the reader. The book is an unputdownable rant by an anonymous homemaker and pie baker in Tuscarawas County, Ohio. Our narrator streams a running commentary on small-town life, marriage and re-marriage, gun violence, the rise of hate in Trump's America, and her analysis of Little House on the Prairie. It all ratchets up to a startling climax that rewards the reader for their persistence." -Grace Harper, Mac's Backs (Cleveland, OH)

"Ducks, Newburyport is, without hyperbole, a landmark work of genius. Indisputably so, and yet that feels like inadequate praise for what Lucy Ellmann is doing here. Ducks resembles a Dewey Decimal card catalog dedicated to post-9/11 Americana being rifled through at warp speed or the collected stories of Diane Williams algorithmically rewritten with a Great Lakes accent. Superlatives fall short, especially when we're talking about a book that flouts the fusty conventions of the canon so wildly. "Landmark", sure. "Genius", of course. More importantly, Ellmann is writing something so free from the standards of those well-trodden terms that they begin to lose all meaning. And thank heavens for that." -Justin Walls, Powell's Books (Portland, OR)

"At first glance, Ellmann's paragraph-indentation-free-harangue-of-a text seems daunting, but then the reader becomes completely sucked in … Reading Ducks, Newburyport feels like pulling apart an intricately embroidered quilt. It's at once an act of destruction but it feels so satisfying as you see the material of what was become something new. At the beginning of the book I felt excited to begin the epic stretching out ahead of me. By the end of the book, I was left with thread: a basic knowledge of my own humanity that I could only get too through a process of this diligent unraveling. It's an accomplishment. It's devastating and necessary." -Ida Cuttler, Women and Children First (Chicago, IL)

Biographical Note

Lucy Ellmann's first novel, Sweet Desserts, won the Guardian Fiction Prize. It was followed by Varying Degrees of Hopelessness, Man or Mango? A Lament, Dot in the Universe, Doctors & Nurses, Mimi. Her short stories have appeared in magazines, newspapers and anthologies, and she has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, Independent, Independent on Sunday, Times Literary Supplement, Telegraph, New Statesman and Society, Spectator, Herald, Scottish Review of Books, Time Out (London), Art Monthly, Thirsty Books, Bookforum, Aeon, The Evergreen, and The Baffler. A screenplay, The Spy Who Caught a Cold, was filmed and broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK. She edits fiction for the Fiction Atelier (, and abhors standard ways of teaching Creative Writing, which she considers mostly criminal. Though American by birth, she lives in Scotland.