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Only the Animals: Book summary and reviews of Only the Animals by Ceridwen Dovey

Only the Animals

Stories

by Ceridwen Dovey

Only the Animals by Ceridwen Dovey X
Only the Animals by Ceridwen Dovey
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  • Published Sep 2015
    256 pages
    Genre: Short Stories

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Book Summary

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 and connected to both famous and little-known writers in surprising ways 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. During the Siege of Sarajevo, a starving bear tells a fairy tale. And a dolphin sent to Iraq by the U.S. Navy writes a letter to Sylvia Plath.

Exquisitely written, playful, and poignant, Ceridwen Dovey's 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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

BookBrowse Review
All the stories are well put together, all quietly observant, and all the animals are at the mercy of humanity's most extreme endeavors, but every single animal has the exact same voice. The camel in the Australian outback sounds like the cat in the trenches of WWI, and the tortoise in outer space sounds like the cat, and the chimpanzee in Germany sounds like the parrot in Lebanon, and so on.

Other Reviews
"Starred Review. Wonderfully weird and profoundly witty ... As unsettling as they are beautiful, these quietly wise stories wedge themselves into your mind - and stay there." - Kirkus

"Starred Review. Dovey succeeds in providing original bittersweet tales with the hard-edged truths of history. An essential collection, enthusiastically recommended." - Library Journal

"By appropriating history, mythology, folklore, and even astrology, Dovey finds impressive depth and complexity in the souls of an array of animals ... Dovey finds humanity in her diverse protagonists, and the stories are full of surprises, warmth, and insight." - Publishers Weekly

"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

"I remember being told once that there are bioluminescent plankton; these stories remind me of that fantastic, startling and real illumination. The animal narrators are not mythic, or naive - they are psychologically full. And though the humans in these stories often act like beasts, having actual beasts tell the stories give the reader a broadened sense of what we affectionately term humanity." - Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances

"I have been waiting, since Blood Kin, for another work of fiction by Ceridwen Dovey. Only the Animals is filled with knowledge and wisdom and beauty. It leaves a strange and striking trace on its reader." - Rachel Kushner, author of The Flamethrowers

This information about Only the Animals was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Ceridwen Dovey

Ceridwen Dovey's debut novel, Blood Kin, was published in fifteen countries, short-listed for the Dylan Thomas Award, and selected for the U.S. National Book Foundation's prestigious 5 Under 35 honors list. The Wall Street Journal named her one of their "artists to watch." She studied social anthropology at Harvard and New York University, and now lives with her husband and son in Sydney. Only the Animals recently won the 2014 Readings New Australian Writing Award.

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