“I never understood what it meant for someone's writing to be 'lyrical' until I picked up Red Clocks. With beautiful prose, Leni Zumas tells the story of a young girl seeking an abortion in a world where abortion is illegal and dangerous; a woman on the quest to have children when in-vitro fertilization is illegal and folks aren't allowed to adopt without a partner; a woman in a dead-end marriage desperate to escape from her husband and children; and a woman considered a witch by most who provides homeopathic reproductive healthcare, including illegal abortions. Zumas beautifully weaves these stories together and gives each individual a strong and unique voice, while also maintaining suspended disbelief. These characters felt real and this world felt possible. I suspect this will be one of the best books published in 2018.”
— Hanna Foster, Book People Bookstore, Austin, TX
Winter 2018 Reading Group Indie Next List
“This novel surpassed my wildest expectations in the questions raised for the women Zumas so expertly brings to life. This goes beyond the politics of what women are ‘allowed’ to do with their bodies: it is about what we as women decide to do and the options we give ourselves. A must read for anyone who loved A Handmaid’s Tale or Burial Rites or who just wants to read an amazing book.”
— Catherine Bock, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN
In this ferociously imaginative novel, abortion is once again illegal in America, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo.
Five women. One question. What is a woman for?
In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers alongside age-old questions surrounding motherhood, identity, and freedom. Ro, a single high-school teacher, is trying to have a baby on her own, while also writing a biography of Eivv?r, a little-known 19th-century female polar explorer.
Susan is a frustrated mother of two, trapped in a crumbling marriage. Mattie is the adopted daughter of doting parents and one of Ro's best students, who finds herself pregnant with nowhere to turn. And Gin is the gifted, forest-dwelling herbalist, or "mender," who brings all their fates together when she's arrested and put on trial in a frenzied modern-day witch hunt.
Red Clocks is at once a riveting drama, whose mysteries unfold with magnetic energy, and a shattering novel of ideas. In the vein of Margaret Atwood and Eileen Myles, Leni Zumas fearlessly explores the contours of female experience, evoking The Handmaid's Tale for a new millennium. This is a story of resilience, transformation, and hope in tumultuous -- even frightening -- times.
About the Author
Leni Zumas is the author of the story collection Farewell Navigator and the novel The Listeners, which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. She is an associate professor in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Portland State University.
"[A] lyrical and beautifully observed reflection on women's lives.... Highly absorbing.... Zumas is a skillful writer, expertly keeping each of her characters in balanced motion, never allowing one to dominate the rest. Her cunning device of not revealing the name of each character in the sections she narrates grants us a multidimensional perspective on all four women, highlighting their roles in one another's stories. It's a beautiful metaphor for the