Talking Animals

By Joni Murphy

Talking Animals
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A fable for our times, Joni Murphy's Talking Animals takes place in an all-animal world where creatures rather like us are forced to deal with an all-too-familiar landscape of soul-crushing jobs, polluted oceans, and a creeping sense of doom.

It's New York City, nowish. Lemurs ... Read more


Overview

A fable for our times, Joni Murphy's Talking Animals takes place in an all-animal world where creatures rather like us are forced to deal with an all-too-familiar landscape of soul-crushing jobs, polluted oceans, and a creeping sense of doom.

It's New York City, nowish. Lemurs brew espresso. Birds tend bar. There are bears on Wall Street, and a billionaire racehorse is mayor. Sea creatures are viewed with fear and disgust and there's chatter about building a wall to keep them out.

Alfonzo is a moody alpaca. His friend Mitchell is a sociable llama. They both work at City Hall, but their true passions are noise music and underground politics. Partly to meet girls, partly because the world might be ending, these lowly bureaucrats embark on an unlikely mission to expose the corrupt system that's destroying the city from within. Their project takes them from the city's bowels to its extremities, where they encounter the Sea Equality Revolutionary Front, who are either a group of dangerous radicals or an inspiring liberation movement.

In this novel, at last, nature kvetches and grieves, while talking animals offer us a kind of solace in the guise of dumb jokes. This is mass extinction as told by BoJack Horseman. This is The Fantastic Mr. Fox journeying through Kafka's Amerika. This is dogs and cats, living together. Talking Animals is an urgent allegory about friendship, art, and the elemental struggle to change one's life under the low ceiling of capitalism.

Joni Murphy

Joni Murphy is from New Mexico and lives in New York. Her debut novel, Double Teenage, was published in 2016 and was named one of the Globe and Mail's 100 Best Books of the year.

Reviews

“Murphy has great fun animalizing the streets of N. Y.C. and writes beautiful paeans to the sea. ” —Publishers Weekly

"Murphy's wise and hilarious Talking Animals bobs along the wake of the present and coming floods like some driftwood ark of sibylline genius. " —Eugine Lim, author of Dear Cyborgs

"Joni Murphy's inventive and beautiful allegory depicts a city enmeshed in climate collapse, blinded to the signs of its imminent destruction by petty hatreds and monstrous greed: that is, the world we are living in now. Talking Animals is an Orwellian tale of totalitarianism in action, but the animals on this farm are much cuter, and they make better puns. " —Chris Kraus, author of I Love Dick and After Kathy Acker

"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)

"Murphy’s [novel features] a lovable alpaca bureaucrat who gets tangled up with Sea Equality revolutionaries in a New York entirely populated by animals… [a] slyly funny, endlessly rewarding book about living a daily life in a world you know is deeply wrong. " —Staff picks 2020 – Saelan Twerdy, Librairie Drawn and Quarterly

"This is Animal Farm but better and set now, about how capital renders the city unliveable and neo-liberalism is boiling the planet alive. " —The Globe and Mail 

"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

"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 Cottrell, author of Sorry to Disrupt the Peace

"The book has been billed as 'Animal Farm for the Anthropocene,' and indeed, Talking Animals is to disaster capitalism what that classic Orwell novel was to creeping totalitarianism. " —Slate

"Murphy’s astute perceptions social, political, and emotional; ingenious inventiveness, fluid empathy, and mischievous wit coalesce in an irresistible fable of ringing impact. " Booklist

"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

“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

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