In a quaint tourist village, Dorn makes miniature scale models displayed in the local shops. Yet life is far from idyllic; he suffers under the thumb of a rich, philandering younger brother and an unloving father, and cannot find the courage to admit his love to Ravenna, the ungainly schoolteacher.
Life takes a strange turn when the government-sponsored “Wild Home Project” is introduced and wolves, rats, minks, otters, and bears move into villagers’ homes. Soon, Dorn receives a mysterious commission, finds a body in a park, and has several run-ins with a former classmate-turned police officer. When fire breaks out, Dorn takes on the unlikely role of hero in the hope of changing the course of his life.
A realist novel with the air of a fairy tale, The Animals is a surprising, funny, and thought-provoking story that explores the nature of relationships faunal and human, and reminds us of the challenges of finding one’s place in society . . . and that living with a wolf is not a very good idea.
Praise for The Animals:
“What happens when wild animals are encouraged as household pets? Disruption (and bites)! The Animals is a peculiar and weirdly compelling fable, a version of Where the Wild Things Are, but for adults of the kind who find the world as strange as the films of Wes Anderson.”—Antanas Sileika, author of Provisionally Yours
“Charming, sad, hopeful and compelling, The Animals burns with intelligence, wry wit, and compassion.” —Gary Barwin, Scotiabank Giller Prize-shortlisted author of Yiddish for Pirates
“Poetic, intricate, carefully surreal, The Animals is both a focused human story about relationships and a clear image of a beautifully wrought greater world.” —Premee Mohamed, author of The Annual Migration of Clouds
”An absolute pleasure to read. Just a lovely, immersive, transporting experience.” —Advance the Plot
Most Anticipated: 2022 Fall Fiction Preview —49th Shelf
“You will be absolutely ecstatic…lingers with you long after you’ve devoured the last word.” —Lindsay Wincherauk, I Love It
65 works of Canadian fiction to watch for in fall 2022 —CBC Books
“Fagan’s novella distills enchantments from the ordinary while treating the forces that corrupt ordinary life (including religions, governments, and the bored rich) with sardonic incision. Each scene proffers a surprise, strung together to form a sometimes baffling, always delightful whole.” —Michelle Anne Schingler, Foreword Reviews
“The pages will fly by in this compact novel. The writing is excellent and the narrative resembles an allegorical fairy tale.” —She Treads Softly
“Funny, provocative, magical, and warmly engaging.” —The Vancouver Sun
“Adopting a wolf, weasel or wolverine sounds like an extremely bad idea, but in Cary Fagan’s novel The Animals, it adds to the overall zaniness of the topsy-turvy world he creates.” —Andrea Geary, Winnipeg Free Press
“In Fagan’s short and addictive novel, all sorts of animals are being domesticated as pets through something called the Wild Home Animal Project. They represent a sanctioned yet mortal danger that a gullible citizenry is embracing because a bizarre social initiative has slid into being and become the norm. . . At its heart, the novel is a puzzling and lively parable.” —Sandra Martin, The Literary Review of Canada
Shrapnel’s Fall Favourites of 2022 —Shrapnel Magazine
Cary Fagan is the author of eight previous novels and five books of short stories, including The Student, Great Adventures for the Faint of Heart, and A Bird’s Eye. He has been nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Writers’ Trust Fiction Award, the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, and has won the Toronto Book Award and the Canadian Jewish Book Award for Fiction. He is also an acclaimed writer of books for children, having won the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, the IODE Jean Throop Book Award, a Mr. Christie Silver Medal, the Joan Betty Stuchner—Oy Vey!—Funniest Children’s Book Award, and the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People. Fagan’s work has been translated into French, Italian, German, Dutch, Spanish, Catalan, Turkish, Russian, Polish, Chinese, Korean and Persian. He still lives in his hometown of Toronto.