Exquisitely written, playful and poignant, Only the Animals is a remarkable literary achievement by the award-winning Ceridwen Dovey, one of our brightest young writers.
Perhaps only the animals can tell us what it is to be human. The souls of ten animals caught up in human conflicts over the last century tell their astonishing stories of life and death. In a trench on the Western Front a cat recalls her owner Colette's theatrical antics in Paris. In Nazi Germany a dog seeks enlightenment. A Russian tortoise once owned by the Tolstoys drifts in space during the Cold War. In the siege of Sarajevo a bear starving to death tells a fairytale. And a dolphin sent to Iraq by the US Navy writes a letter to Sylvia Plath ...
Exquisitely written, playful and poignant, Only the Animals is a remarkable literary achievement by one of our brightest young writers. An animal's-eye view of humans at our brutal, violent worst and our creative, imaginative best, it asks us to find our way back to empathy not only for animals, but for other people, and to believe again in the redemptive power of reading and writing fiction.
Reviews:'Only the Animals is mesmerizing and exhilarating, funny and moving. It has elements of strangeness and greatness, like Kafka. Dovey's exquisitely drawn creatures grapple nobly with their animal natures, a genius point of view from which to illuminate how we humans - ostensibly conscious and verbal - are trapped in ours. This book feels like a major mind announcing itself.' Anna Funder 'The life stories related by these very civilized animals are in some cases touching (the elephant), in others amusing (the mussel), but all are absorbing. They are transmitted to us with a light touch and no trace of sentimentality.' J.M. Coetzee 'An audacious work of the imagination ...An extraordinary series of fabulist tales ...The yarns are funny, tragic, smart, arch, poignant and playful all at once.' The Saturday Age 'The emotional heat here is pitched at Bunsen burner blue - hard and clear, without a flicker of showy sentiment - while the main criticism that might be launched against such stories, that they traffic in a naive anthropomorphism, is checked at every move by a rigorous deployment of contemporary developments in animal psychology and neuroscience. The best of the stories are not only smart in a modern, scientific sense, however; they keep one foot in the older, folkloric tradition of animal stories, and in a wonder that is as old as our species ...What Dovey ventures is to rescue animals from the cultural margins. To be seen by animals is a profound inversion of the situation where it is we who do the watching. The results are sometimes profound, and always powerfully disconcerting.' Weekend Australian
- Winner of the 2014 Queensland Literary 'Steele Rudd Award for a short story collection'
Author Biography: Ceridwen Dovey was born in South Africa and raised between South Africa and Australia. She studied social anthropology at Harvard as an undergraduate and received her Masters in social anthropology from New York University. Her debut novel, Blood Kin, was published in fifteen countries, shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Award, and selected for the US National Book Foundation's prestigious '5 Under 35' honours list. The Wall Street Journal has named her as one of their 'artists to watch.' Her second book of fiction, Only the Animals, was described by The Guardian as a 'dazzling, imagined history of humans' relationship with animals.' Ceridwen lives in Sydney. ceridwendovey.com
view full description