Dept. of Speculation

First edition

AuthorJenny Offill
CountryUnited States
PublisherAlfred A. Knopf

Publication date

January 28, 2014
Pages179 pages

Dept. of Speculation is a 2014 novel by American author Jenny Offill. The novel received positive reviews, and has been compared to Offills later work, Weather.

Composition and writing[edit]

Though not purely autobiographical, the novel draws from Offills life.[1] Offill has said Dept. of Speculation [...] came from the ashes of another book.[1] Dept. of Speculation eschews a typical plot, which Offill has said was deliberate.[2]


Critical reception[edit]

According to literary review aggregator Book Marks, the book received mostly Rave and reviews, with some less positive reception.[3] The novel has been compared to Renata Adlers 1976 book Speedboat.[4][5] In her review of the book, published by NPR, Meg Wolitzer praised the novel as [...] intriguing, beautifully written, sly and often profound.[6] Wolitzer also praised the novels humor.[6]

Offill has said she did not anticipate the books success.[7]


Dept. of Speculation was shortlisted for 2015 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction,[8] and the Folio Prize.[9]

The novel was included on the New York Times list of the best books of 2014.[10]


A passage in the novel influenced Rachel Yoders novel Nightbitch.[11]


  1. ^ a b In Fragments Of A Marriage, Familiar Themes Get Experimental. NPR. 26 January 2014. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  2. ^ Pieknik, Matt (31 March 2014). How Much Could Be Left Unsaid: An Interview with Jenny Offill. The Paris Review. The Paris Review. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  3. ^ Dept. of Speculation. Literary Hub. Literary Hub. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  4. ^ Wood, James (24 March 2014). Mother Courage. The New Yorker. The New Yorker. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  5. ^ Gay, Roxane (7 February 2014). Bridled Vows (Published 2014). The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  6. ^ a b Wolitzer, Meg (23 January 2014). Speculation Shows Good Stories Come In Small Packages, Too. NPR. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  7. ^ Haas, Lidija (28 February 2015). Jenny Offill: life after Dept. of Speculation – the underdog personas not going to fly any more. the Guardian. The Guardian. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  8. ^ Announcing The 2015 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Winner | The PEN/Faulkner Foundation. PEN/Faulkner Foundation. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  9. ^ Piepenbring, Dan (9 February 2015). The 2015 Folio Prize Shortlist. The Paris Review. The Paris Review. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  10. ^ The 10 Best Books of 2014 (Published 2014). The New York Times. The New York Times. 4 December 2014. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  11. ^ Tyler, J.A. (22 July 2021). Ferocious and Violent: The Millions Interviews Rachel Yoder. The Millions. Retrieved 30 August 2021.

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