This selection is quite different than our usual AgBookClub selections, and we hope that it will be an interesting variation from our normal reading schedule. Barn 8: A Novel*+ by Deb Olin Unferth is a fictional story of a plot to steal a million chickens in the dead of night. The fictional nature of this book should provide a different take on the animal agriculture industry in comparison to past selections on the topic, and we’re interested to see whether it includes accurate portrayal of agriculture.
An unforgettably exuberant and potent novel by a writer at the height of her powers
Two auditors for the U.S. egg industry go rogue and conceive a plot to steal a million chickens in the middle of the night―an entire egg farm’s worth of animals. Janey and Cleveland―a spirited former runaway and the officious head of audits―assemble a precarious, quarrelsome team and descend on the farm on a dark spring evening. A series of catastrophes ensues.
Deb Olin Unferth’s wildly inventive novel is a heist story of a very unusual sort. Swirling with a rich array of voices, Barn 8 takes readers into the minds of these renegades: a farmer’s daughter, a former director of undercover investigations, hundreds of activists, a forest ranger who suddenly comes upon forty thousand hens, and a security guard who is left on an empty farm for years. There are glimpses twenty thousand years into the future to see what chickens might evolve into on our contaminated planet. We hear what hens think happens when they die. In the end the cracked hearts of these indelible characters, their earnest efforts to heal themselves, and their radical actions will lead them to ruin or revelation.
Funny, whimsical, philosophical, and heartbreaking, Barn 8 ultimately asks: What constitutes meaningful action in a world so in need of change? Unferth comes at this question with striking ingenuity, razor-sharp wit, and ferocious passion. Barn 8 is a rare comic-political drama, a tour de force for our time.
Here’s what you need to do this month:
Get the book. Buy it, borrow it, download and listen to it, read it over your neighbor’s shoulder — we don’t care. But don’t steal the book. 😉
Read the book.
- Week 1: Part 1 – pages 1-70 (Twitter chat on 6/2)
- Week 2: Part 2 – pages 71-115 (Twitter chat on 6/9)
- Week 3: Part 2, cont’d. – pages 116-174 (Twitter chat on 6/16)
- Week 4: Part 3 – pages 175-227(Twitter chat on 6/23)
- Week 5: Part 4 and epilogue – pages 228-282 (Twitter chat on 6/30)
Join the chat (#AgBookClub) on Wednesdays at 8:00pm Central on Twitter. Learn how to participate in a Twitter chat here. While we hope you can participate in our discussion every week, we know that everyone has busy schedules. We always include general questions following the topic(s) of the book that can be answered by anyone, so please don’t hesitate to jump in the Twitter chat if you didn’t have a chance to read the section we’re discussing. We welcome any and all to join the discussion!