Ball, whose “A Cure for Suicide” was long-listed for the 2015 National Book Award, here draws on elements of his own family’s history to create an emotionally true and profoundly honest exploration of our contemporary society, wrapped in the moving story of father’s fierce love for his son with Down syndrome.
A father learns he doesn’t have long to live, and is faced with questions about who will care for his adult son. When the opportunity for the father and son to travel the country presents itself in the form of a job as a census taker, the pair traverses the nation through towns named only by ascending letters of the alphabet. Some people welcome them, others rebuff them. As the travelers go farther afield from civilization, the landscape growing wilder and the towns more distant and blighted, the father must confront a series of profound questions about the world’s future, his son’s fate and how he must learn to say goodbye.
Mysterious and evocative, “Census” is a novel about free will, grief, the power of memory, and the ferocity of parental love, from one of our most captivating young writers. It has been named one of the most anticipated books of 2018 by The New York Times, The Chicago Reader, Nylon, The Huffington Post, The Rumpus, The AV Club, Southern Living, The Millions and Buzzfeed.
Ball is the author of fourteen books, most recently “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 one of the faculty at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and won the 2008 Paris Review Plimpton Prize. He has been a fellow of the NEW, Creative Capital and the Guggenheim Foundation.
Ball will be in conversation with Kathleen Alcott, author of “Infinite Home,” on March 6 at Books Are Magic.