Book Club

Travel Book Club: Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead Discussion

Eden Book Club: Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead Discussion

Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead is one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. Janina is a character unlike any other. She’s boldly bizarre and up-front about her convictions. I came into this story for the mystery (and the fantastically described remote Polish village setting) and stayed for her biting observations.

This is a tale that slowly wanders and drifts and rambles, all while asking a big, revelatory question: who gets to live and who gets to die? I loved the premise. It’s ambitious and as evidenced by Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead’s Nobel Prize, the book succeeds in its ambitions.

I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this title. Feel free to rant or rave in the comments section below. I look forward to chatting with you!

P.S. As a non-Blake scholar, there were so many moments where I felt utterly lost, dazed, and confused by the Blake-blanketed environment of Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead. If you’re a fan of Blake, feel free to pose more Blake-related discussion questions in the comments sections (I look forward to reading your insights).

Book Club Discussion Guidelines

Discussion posts (like this one) will have a series of questions as starting points. But honestly, you can talk about whatever you want regarding the books (or questions). You don’t have to answer all (or any) of the questions. I’d still love to hear your thoughts!

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You can join in regardless of whether you’ve read, not read, or DNF’d the book! I understand that not everyone has the time to read or finish the book so I try to include a general discussion question as well to make the discussions more inclusive.

Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead Discussion Questions

  • Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead sits between many genres. What genre would you categorize this book as (mystery, thriller, literary fiction, etc)?
  • Janina doesn’t refer to characters by their given names, but rather a name she gives them (pg. 18-19). How do you feel about her philosophy on names?
  • Astrology laces almost every page of Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead. How do you feel about Janina’s passion for astrology?
  • Did you feel (at any point) like Janina was an unreliable narrator? At what points in the story did your perspective about Janina change?
  • Do you think Janina’s arguments are coherent? How do you feel about her logic?
  • Why do you think certain words were capitalized in this story (ex: Deer, Attribute, Night)?
  • What role does the location (a remote area straddling the Poland-Czechia border) play in Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead?
  • What are your favorite lines and quotes from this story?
  • What was your favorite William Blake reference?
  • How do you feel about the plot of Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead?

November 2022 Book Club Pick

sincerely anshula

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! Of course, these are just starter questions. There are no right or wrong answers. Feel 100% free to discuss anything regarding the book (or otherwise). I’ll be jumping in and responding as well!

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  • Faye Ranger
    October 28, 2022 at 6:49 PM

    Blake fan here. I knew that I was going to love this book before I even started it. The title is from Blake’s poem Proverbs Of Hell. Blake was a revolutionary. He was a critic and free thinker but during his lifetime, his works were often disregarded and undervalued. Tokarczuk is very much a modern day, feminist Blake. Her life parallel’s this aspect of Blake much and so in a self-aware manner she plays on that. The Blake references don’t just add to the story; they make the story more relevant. There are works that are inspired by an artist or poet and there are those that channel its energy. Tokarczuk channels the energy of Blake in her piece. Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead is not an ode to Blake. The book feels like a reemergence of what made him great.

    • Anshula Varma
      October 29, 2022 at 6:08 PM

      Hi Faye, I had no idea that Tokarczuk’s life paralleled Blake’s! Thank you for sharing! I had read online that Tokarczuk’s real life and personality was somewhat similar to Janina’s in the book, so she was able to craft Janina’s character with a deep level of authenticity. But knowing the tidbit about Blake makes me want to re-read the book (it really heightens the self-awareness, you mentioned, that permeates this story)!

  • Topenga
    October 29, 2022 at 8:03 AM

    Janina’s relationship with astrology is interesting. It’s counter to what might be expected from someone living in a remote Polish village. Her interest in astrology contrasts to the religion of the area and it shows her as being different. Not sure if I can spoiler the book but it came together nicely in the end. That is the point when the purpose of the astrology clicked. I was not familiar with astrology before reading this book so I looked a lot of it up but it was fun to discover what the different signs were.

    • Anshula Varma
      November 1, 2022 at 11:31 AM

      You can absolutely spoil the book if you want to! I love how you connected astrology to the religious themes in this story. Astrology in Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead really taps into the universality of the moral questions Tokarczuk poses and explores. It also creates a sense of structure within the chaos of the story. Janina believes in astrology for the same reasons many believe in religion: comfort, a sense of understanding, a sense that all will/might be right in the world. I think by creating that parallel to traditional religious beliefs, Janina doesn’t seem all that different, yet vastly worlds apart in her counter-culture thinking.

  • Tony
    October 29, 2022 at 8:47 AM

    This book was heavy. I’ve read a few of this book club’s picks in the past but did not feel like there was much I could say about them. This book spat out ideas and thoughts and ideas and thoughts.

    I thought Janina was crazy at first but there are still moments that are sound and brilliant.

    Lines that f****** hit me

    “You know what, sometimes it seems to me we’re living in a world that we fabricate for ourselves. We decide what’s good and what isn’t, we draw maps of meanings for ourselves… And then we spend our whole lives struggling with what we have invented for ourselves. The problem is that each of us has our own version of it, so people find it hard to understand each other.”

    “We have a view of the world, but Animals have a sense of the world, do you see?”

    “From nature’s point of view no creatures are useful or not useful. That’s just a foolish distinction applied by people”

    • Anshula Varma
      November 1, 2022 at 11:41 AM

      Oh, I loved a lot of the lines in this book too! I started to think Janina was a bit bonkers after the way she described Big Foot’s death. It was weirdly romanticized in certain moments and then, in others, the romanticization was pulled back. I got unhinged narrator vibes from her. Then, as the story progressed, I found myself nodding along to some of the things she said and questioning others. It’s definitely a book that elicited a lot of reactions.

      One of my favorite quotes was: The prison is not outside, but inside each of us. Perhaps we simply don’t know how to live without it.

  • io
    October 29, 2022 at 9:07 PM

    Having read this I thought it was extremely enlightening.
    I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this information together.

    I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount
    of time both reading and leaving comments. But so
    what, it was still worth it!


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