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Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz is named a finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry! Learn more.

Barn 8

A Novel
Deb Olin Unferth
Two auditors for the US 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 but utterly plausible 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.

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An unforgettably exuberant and potent novel by a writer at the height of her powers

About the Author

Deb Olin Unferth
Credit: photo credit: Nick Berard
Deb Olin Unferth is the author of six books, including Barn 8 and Wait Till You See Me Dance. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and three Pushcart Prizes, and was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. Her work has appeared in Granta, Harper’sMcSweeney’s, and the Paris Review.
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Upcoming Events

VIRTUAL: Deb Olin Unferth (BARN 8) in conversation with Agustina Bazterrica, presented by Texas Book Festival

Texas Book Festival in Austin, TXview map
3:30 PM Pacific / 5:30 PM Central / 6:30 PM Eastern. Broadcast via Crowdcast. Register here


  • “Kaleidoscopic. . . . Unferth’s lens, which telescopes through time and space, is unafraid to linger on the bizarre and vicious cycle of birth-death, need-fulfillment and supply-demand that this phantom-run barn universe perpetuates. . . . Yet Unferth never traffics in gratuitous shock. Instead, her sentences and constantly shifting point of view are embroidered with a great deal of unexpected tenderness and optimism.”Los Angeles Times
  • “An incredibly nimble and frequently amusing book worthy of its deathly serious subject, one that invites the reader to think rather than merely witness.”The Boston Globe
  • “Funny, sassy, smart, and timely, this novel is a sheer joy to read.”Napa Valley Register
  • "An adventurous, quirky, yet slyly political novel, Barn 8 defies all expectations. Deb Olin Unferth has been published by the Paris Review and McSweeney’s, but this new novel, just released this month, may be her most triumphant work to date."Austin Monthly
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