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Parrots own cafes and lemurs run the espresso machines. Badgers tend bar, raccoons write for The Post, and a racehorse is mayor. There are dogs on Wall Street and cats on Broadway. Sea creatures are viewed with fear and disgust. Maybe a big wall should be built to keep them out. It's New York City, now-ish. No big deal. Alfonzo is an alpaca. His hip friend Mitchell is a llama. They both work at City Hall and are trying to navigate the great furry city collapsing around them. Partly to meet girls, and partly out of a sense that the world might be ending, these lowly city employees embark on an unlikely mission to take down the corrupt system selling the city out from beneath its real inhabitants. Their journey soon leads them to the Sea Front, a clandestine group that could as easily be a hive of dangerous radicals as an inspirational liberation movement. This world without humans teems with creatures stuck in frustrating jobs and surrounded by crumbling infrastructure and worsening environmental catastrophes. Joni Murphy's Talking Animals is Animal Farm by way of Annie Hall by way of The Sixth Extinction. At once delicate and urgent, it is a contemporary allegory about community and capitalism, art and protest, the physical and emotional devastation of global warming, and the elemental struggle to change one's life.

 

Details

ISBN: 9780374538743
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 304
Publication Date: 16 Oct 2020
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux Inc
Publication City, Country: New York, United States
Dimensions (cm): 19(H) x 12.9(L) x 2.2(W)
Weight (gm): 230

 

Reviews

Come for the cover, which depicts a thoughtful alpaca, and stay for the tale of intrigue, climate change, and metropolitan doom--all in a world without humans. Sounds nice right now!
--Vulture, 29 Books We Can't Wait to Read This Summer 2020

A 21st-century combination of Animal Farm and Aesop's Fables . . . Murphy packs a lot of issues--class, climate change immigration, vegetarianism, and more--into a familiar plot about malfeasance. She balances her poetic ruminations and dogmatic lecturing with a goofy relish for puns . . . Weird yet engrossing and hard to forget.
--Kirkus (starred)

Joni Murphy's second novel, Talking Animals, is as remarkable as her first, Double Teenage, which moved 'with stealth and intelligence against the North American landscape.' Talking Animals envisions an alternate history of Manhattan, this one cultivated by animals, but sans us human animals . . . The result is devilishly funny and sharply prescient, an Animal Farm for our times.
--The Millions

Talking Animals is as much a paean to New York City as it is a brutal skewering of it. That's not a contradiction: The beauty and glamour of NYC are inextricable from the destruction it's caused. But the characters, who come to epiphanies regarding their society and empathize with those who have been suffocated for too long, reject that easy, lazy, immoral nihilism is the answer. The world is awful, but we owe it to ourselves and those we love to fight for those oppressed, to create a safer, more just world. We made the mess we live in today. But we can still do our best to clean it up, even if we're just an alpaca.
--Slate

Set in a world as cruel and complex as our own, Joni Murphy's Talking Animals erases the illusory distinction between man and beast. This tale of lonesome hearts, rising seas, and political intrigue is not only engrossing and finely wrought, it carries a message of survival: we're all in this together, and we need each other.
--Lisa Locascio, author of Open Me

Absurd and irreverent, Talking Animals is a wild love letter to all bureaucrats, academics, and alpacas of the anthropocene. Joni Murphy, rightful zookeeper-heir to Kafka's animal kingdom, speaks for us all.
--Patty Yumi Cotrell, author of Sorry to Disrupt the Peace

New York City populated by animals. The protagonist is an alpaca. [Talking Animals is] this amazing capitalist critique that feels very reassuring, depicting a world already turned upside down."
--Kate Elizabeth Russell, author of My Dark Vanessa

The long effort to raise human life above all else comes to a merciful end in Joni Murphy's Talking Animals. Grief, inequality, the possibility of liberation: Murphy sings a song 'not kind, just true.' This is a rare novel, one with the humane gift of humor--and real urgency. And rarest of all, it's a novel we need.
--Andrew Durbin, author of MacArthur Park

"The best NYC novel since The Puttermesser Papers, Murphy's wise and hilarious Talking Animals bobs along the wake of the present and coming flood like some driftwood ark of sibylline genius. Its beasts reveal ourselves: the mercenaries, the easily complicit, the legion of sheep and lemmings (no offense), and the rarely defiant. Read it; after all, the sky is falling."
--Eugene Lim, author of Dear Cyborgs

A thrillingly imaginative zoological fantasia vivid with fierce intelligence, caustic observation, and sly humor. The concrete jungle has never felt so funny, so unexpected, and so wonderfully humane.
--Elan Mastai, author of All Our Wrongs Today

 

Author Biography

Joni Murphy is a writer from New Mexico who lives in New York. Her debut novel, Double Teenage, was named one of The Globe and Mail's 100 Best Books of 2016.
Talking Animals: A Novel
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