Nominated for the Women’s Prize for Fiction
“I’m in love with a grieving misfit driving around with a donkey-shaped piñata in an old van held together by duct tape…the great miracle of McKenzie’s writing… is how she manages to transform misery into gentle humor…darkly hilarious.” —The Washington Post
“An addictive read with an ultimately hopeful core that recalls Haruki Murakami, Sayaka Murata, Richard Brautigan, and Miranda July” – Sanjena Sathian, author of Gold Diggers
Penny Rush has problems. Her marriage is over; she’s quit her job. Her mother and stepfather went missing in the Australian outback five years ago; her mentally unbalanced father provokes her; her grandmother Dr. Pincer keeps experiments in the refrigerator and something worse in the woodshed. But Penny is a virtuoso at what’s possible when all else fails.
Elizabeth McKenzie, the National Book Award–nominated author of The Portable Veblen, follows Penny on her quest for a fresh start. There will be a road trip in the Dog of the North, an old van with gingham curtains, a piñata, and stiff brakes. There will be injury and peril. There will be a dog named Kweecoats and two brothers who may share a toupee. There will be questions: Why is a detective investigating her grandmother, and what is “the scintillator”? And can Penny recognize a good thing when it finally comes her way?
This slyly humorous, thoroughly winsome novel finds the purpose in life’s curveballs, insisting that even when we are painfully warped by those we love most, we can be brought closer to our truest selves.