Ducks, Newburyport — Ebook
A profoundly ambitious, deeply American book about what it’s like to be alive in the 21st century, named by Publishers Weekly a Big Book of Winter Institute 14 Set in Newcomerstown, Ohio, in 2017, the book primarily documents the inner monologue of a middle-aged mother, whose thoughts range from recipe tips and the contents of her freezer, to her son’s science projects on industrial pollution and the pressures faced by her mixed-race teenage daughter, to intrusive ones implanted by clickbait headlines and news stories about gun violence, as well as her academic training in American history. By turns a cozy domestic novel, a feminist rant, and—courtesy of a subplot involving a mountain lion—an adventure story, it’s a terrifying, deeply funny, thoroughly original reinvention of the American novel: the domestic Moby-Dick. Contemporary comps might include: Tom McAllister’s How to Be Safe and Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation (regarding content), as well as Anna Burns’ Milkman and George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo (re: form). Named a 2019 book to watch for by The Observer (“A wildly ambitious and righteously angry portrait of contemporary America”) and The Herald Scotsman (“Following the inner thoughts of an Ohio housewife, it’s one sentence long . . . and nine hundred pages. Sounds like my kind of fun.”). The daughter of Joyce biographer Richard Ellmann, Ellmann’s work is known for its formal invention, razor-sharp humor, and social consciousness. She has ardent fans who will know about its UK publication in July and will be looking for it in North America. Ellmann’s first novel won the Guardian Fiction Prize and her work has been regularly reviewed there, as well as in the NYT, LA Times, Cosmopolitan, Sunday Times, TLS, Observer, New Statesman, and Financial Times.