Jesse Ball

Published: 5 April 2018
Hardback, B Format
129x198mm, 256 pages
ISBN: 9781783783755

Other Editions


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Published: 3 January 2019
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 256 pages
ISBN: 9781783783779

Ebook Available

About the author

Image of Jesse Ball

Jesse Ball is the award-winning author of over ten books of prose, poetry, drawings and essays. He lives in Chicago. More about the author


Census is a curious, clever novel... Ball's style is spare and simple... Census is a help to greater understanding and an act of piety. It is a humane, surreal novelBrian Martin



Census is a journey without names... Places are identified only by letter, so from A-Z, they move through the very DNA of language... This is both a curiously complicated and persuasively simple book... The text reads more like a letter exploring the complexity of love... Jesse Ball is telling us a most important truth through the father: those who battle to communicate will always need a champion’ Henrietta McKervey

'Census is a vital testament to selfless love; a psalm to commonplace miracles; and a mysterious evolving metaphor. So kind, it aches' David Mitchell

A novel of abundant affecting moments and strange, fierce wisdom, Census is an exquisitely powerful testament to loveLisa McInerney

Census is a strange and marvellous piece of work. It has the eerie atmosphere of both an antique fable and a letter from the future; it is sad and lonely and joyous and shimmering with love. I feel changed for having read it. Jesse Ball is a stunning writer with a searching gaze and a steady hand; he makes me want to stand up and be countedJon McGregor

I was hugely moved by Jesse Ball's allegorical Census, about love and down's Syndrome’ Selected by Daniel Swift as a book of the year

Unexpected, often remarkable... Done with a light touch and a resourceful sense of drama [the characters are] all vividly rendered often with wonderfully macabre or bizarre stories in their background, and advance a sustained philosophical inquiry into the nature and limits of human empathy... A detailed and moving portrait of a kind of radical innocence, one that brings both the cruelty and the kindness in the world around it into sharp focus. [A] powerful... unusual, impressive novelJames Lasdun

Uniquely memorable and utterly profound.. strange and dreamlike...’ Melissa Harrison

‘A wonderful, stirring, essential novel’ Kit Caless

‘Ball's writing is a blend of delicacy and panache... Census shimmers between a spectrum of moods; its prose has a versatility that can equally do heartfelt [...] and slyly ironic... remarkable’ Cal Revely-Calder

‘I'm also drawn to novels of the surreal-yet-just-about-believable species... Census by Jesse Ball is a much more sensitive, successful example - somehow both a road movie and a celebration of the life of his big brother’ Book of the Year selected by Sara Baume

‘Reading Jesse Ball's new novel feels like being hypnotised, or like having your heart broken... a dreamlike road-trip of a book ... overflowing with feelingPatrick Langley

‘The book that blew my head wide open this year was Jessse Ball's Census, which was intimate and dislocated and funny and sad and like nothing else I've read before. Not enough people have read it. Go and read it’ Selected by Jon McGregor as a book of the year

‘This pared-to-the-bone tale of a widower and his son on a northward journey to chart the population of an unspecified America-like country [is] a powerful reflection on what constitutes selfhood [from] Ball - a rising star of US fiction... I defy anyone not to read its final pages through tearsAnthony Cummins

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