Census

Census Review

A powerful and moving new novel from an award-winning, acclaimed author: in the wake of a devastating revelation, a father and son journey north across a tapestry of towns.

When a widower receives notice from a doctor that he doesn’t have long left to live, he is struck by the question of who will care for his adult son—a son whom he fiercely loves, a boy with Down syndrome. With no recourse in mind, and with a desire to see the country on one last trip, the man signs up as a census taker for a mysterious governmental bureau and leaves town with his son. 


Traveling into the country, through towns named only by ascending letters of the alphabet, the man and his son encounter a wide range of human experience. While some townspeople welcome them into their homes, others who bear the physical brand of past censuses on their ribs are wary of their presence. When they press toward the edges of civilization, the landscape grows wilder, and the towns grow farther apart and more blighted by industrial decay. As they approach “Z,” the man must confront a series of questions: What is the purpose of the census? Is he complicit in its mission? And just how will he learn to say good-bye to his son? 

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.

Title:Census
Edition Language:English

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    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Angela M

    There were a few times that I wanted to put this book aside because I wasn’t getting what was happening in this society, this country with unnamed towns designated by letters from A-Z. I wasn’t un...

  • Cheri

    ”Mama whispered softly time will ease your painLife's about changing nothing ever stays the sameAnd she said how can I help you to say goodbye it's okay to hurt and it's okay to cryCome let me hold ...

  • Truman32

    An unnamed widower receives news from his doctor that he is suffering from a fatal condition and will shortly die. He quits his medical practice and loads his adored son, a boy with Down Syndrome, int...

  • Jennifer

    Absolutely stunning. Census is a deeply personal novel for Jesse Ball and you need to know this before starting the book. Mr. Ball has a thorough introduction that shares his inspiration for this nove...

  • Jill

    I am an unabashed fan of Jesse Ball. I’ve read many of his books – The Curfew, The Lesson, Silence Once Begun, A Cure for Suicide, How to Set a Fire & Why – and have often marveled at his metafi...

  • Jessica Sullivan

    It's no secret that I'm a Jesse Ball fanatic. I think he's one of the most exciting living writers. I hold his novels on a high pedestal, and find that he is unmatched in his ability to write surreal,...

  • Marianne

    4.5★s“My wife and I always spoke of making a trip together to show our son the country, but it never came. For one reason or another, it never came, and so I felt when my wife passed, when the ide...

  • Joachim Stoop

    After Silence once begun and A Cure for suicide I had high expectations of the latest Jesse Ball, but Census didn't disappoint at all. It's an absolute triumph of imagination, writing skills and fines...

  • Text Publishing

    ‘Its hopefulness is endearing, its purity shines…warrants a re-read.’ Bookmunch ‘Census, Ball’s eighth and latest novel, may be his most emotionally affecting book to date...a profound and s...

  • Neil

    This was my first experience of a Jesse Ball novel. I did however come across him in Granta magazine’s "Best of Young American Novelists" where he wrote a short story called "A Wooden Taste is the W...