Only the Animals

Only the Animals

3.71 (1,504 ratings by Goodreads)
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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 this bright young writer. 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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Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 130 x 198 x 16mm | 210g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main
  • 1782397175
  • 9781782397175
  • 25,140

Review Text

Frequently hilarious... Dazzling. The Observer
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Review quote

Frequently hilarious... Dazzling. * The Observer * 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. * Saturday Age * Dovey writes with the same easy, muscular lucidity in this book as in her first; and both place her as part of a transnational generation of younger authors...whose work stakes a claim, via flamboyant feats of novelistic imagination, for extending fiction's borders past their own geography and time. * Sydney Review of Books * Dovey is a natural storyteller . . . The author's portrayals of human-animal interactions evoke images of lasting beauty and power. * Australian Book Review * A strange and beautiful work . . . Each story is self-contained, but each is far richer - in terms of emotional and philosophical resonance - for its proximity to the others. To put it another way: Only the Animals is a perfectly integrated work of art brilliantly disguised as a collection of short stories. * The Monthly * We challenge you not to get caught up. * Elle * 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 *
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About Ceridwen Dovey

Ceridwen Dovey's debut novel, Blood Kin, was published in fifteen countries, shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, and selected for the U.S. National Book Foundation's prestigious "5 Under 35" honours list. She studied social anthropology at Harvard and New York University, and now lives with her husband and son in Sydney. Only the Animals won the 2014 Readings New Australian Writing Award. Her website is
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Rating details

1,504 ratings
3.71 out of 5 stars
5 27% (404)
4 34% (512)
3 26% (396)
2 9% (136)
1 4% (56)
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