Red Clocks

Leni Zumas

Pub date

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Book Overview

FIVE WOMEN. ONE QUESTION: What is a woman for?

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. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers.

Ro, a single high-school teacher, is trying to have a baby on her own, while also writing a biography of Eivør, 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 homeopath, 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. With the verve of Naomi Alderman’s THE POWER and the prescient brilliance of THE HANDMAID’S TALE, Leni Zumas’ incredible new novel is fierce, fearless and frighteningly plausible.

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 fearless novel with a frightening premise that seems plausible. One for fans of Naomi Alderman’s The Power’ Stylist

‘Lyrical and beautifully observed … highly absorbing’ Naomi Alderman, author of The Power

‘Necessary and so of the moment … this is your go-to book in 2018’ Elle

‘Terrifyingly real’ The Pool

‘Vividly imagined’ Sunday Times

‘Sharp, bold, funny’ Esquire

‘Powerful, beautifully written (and, at times, wry and funny) … Red Clocks is set to become one of the essential reads for 2018’ Emerald Street

‘This provocative exploration of female longing, frustration and determination couldn’t be more timely, and yet there’s nothing fleeting about it … Zumas has written a novel that’s political without being doctrinaire, that expands the dimensions of our most pressing social debate’ Washington Post

‘The dystopian feminist novel for a new generation and a story that will rev you up to be part of the resistance’ Refinery29

‘Shattering … The characters are beautifully realized, inviting empathy and understanding; the richly realized plot is compulsively readable, and the theme, with its echoes of Margaret Atwood, is never didactic but invites thought and discussion. The result is powerful and timely.’ Booklist (starred review)

‘In bristling sentences that strike with stunning efficiency, Leni Zumas shows girls and women defying the excruciating restrictions imposed by both law and culture. This is not only timely but necessary fiction—uncannily prescient, unabashedly political, and fiercely humane. We so desperately need books like this’ Emily Fridlund, author of History of Wolves

‘Hilarious, terrifying, and masterful–this pitch-perfect, timely novel reflects the horror and absurdity of our political landscape with a brilliance that ensures the book’s timelessness. It’s as riotously fun as it is chilling. Zumas has produced a poignant, wickedly sharp classic’ Alissa Nutting, author of Tampa