Ten tales are told by the souls of animals killed in human conflicts in the past century or so, from a camel in colonial Australia to a cat in the trenches in World War I, from a bear starved to death during the siege of Sarajevo to a mussel that died in Pearl Harbour. Each narrator also pays homage to an author who has written imaginatively about animals during much the same time span: Henry Lawson, Colette, Kafka, Virginia Woolf, Tolstoy, Günter Grass, Julian Barnes, and others.
These stories are brilliantly plotted, exquisitely written, inevitably poignant but also playful and witty. They ask us to consider profound questions. Why do animals shock us into feeling things we can't seem to feel for other humans? Why do animals allow authors to say the unsayable? Why do we sometimes treat humans as animals, and animals as humans? Can fiction help us find moral meaning in a disillusioned world?
Ceridwen Dovey is a prodigiously gifted storyteller, an insightful thinker, and a prose writer of great range. Each of the storylines is an opening to a new way of considering the nature of violence and the relationship between human and animal experiences of the world. Only The Animals will ask you to believe again, just for a moment, in the redemptive power of reading and writing fiction.
This is a book about animals. And they all get a chapter of their own.
The first one about a camel, well ...not a lot happened there.
The second one about a cat was better, and sad! A cat at the Western front. Meeting another cat, thinking about the owner, all while surviving.
Then we had such a creepy tale about a chimpanzee writing letter to the wife of the man who trained him to act human. I mean it was really good, but creepy.
The next story was about a dog, whose owner was into Hinduism, Buddhism, and the dog started to think about karma. Interesting.
Then came the beatnick mussel on the road. Well written.
After that a sad tortoise who met interesting people before going into space.
Then an elephant story, they are just so sad you know. They try to live their lives while people are at war.
The bear story was not any happier. It took place in Sarajevo. The bear starved while another bear told a story about a prince.
The next one was about dolphins trained for war. All stories start with the death date of the animal, so they are not happy.
And last, about a parrot. The end hit me there, why oh why.
Animals forgotten while people are at war. Animals trained for war. Animals just trying to live. I liked these stories. They are sad, thoughtful and quite wonderful. And they worked as short glimpses into a life of an animal.
Paperback, 256 pages
Expected publication: August 18th 2015 by Atlantic Books