In this genre-bending debut collection merging horror, fairy tales, pop culture, and sci-fi, women challenge the boundaries placed on their bodies while living in a world “among animals,” where violence is intertwined with bizarre ecological disruptions.
A sentient sex robot goes against her programming; a grad student living with depression is weighed down by an ever-present albatross; an unhappy wife turns into a spider; a boy with a dark secret is haunted by dolls; a couple bound for a colony on Mars take a road trip through Texas; a girl fights to save her sister from growing a mermaid tail like their absent mother.
Magical yet human, haunted and haunting, these stories act as a surreal documentation of the mistakes in systems of the past that remain very much in the present. Ferrante investigates toxic masculinity and the devastation it enacts upon women and our planet, delving into the universal undercurrent of ecological anxiety in the face of such toxicity, and the personal experience of being a new mother concerned about the future her child will face.
Through these confrontations of the complexity of living in a woman’s body, Her Body Among Animals moves us from hopelessness to a future of resilience and possibility.
Praise for Her Body Among Animals:
“The women in Paola Ferrante’s sly and startling collection beguile us with their curiosity, vulnerability, and wit as they navigate unsettling metamorphoses that bring them closer to the vast expanses of the sea and stars and farther away from the mundane cruelties of mortality and men. Precise yet poetic, sharply observed yet compassionate and tender, these cautionary tales for future generations burst the bounds of genre and take us into new and exciting literary realms.” —David Demchuk, Scotiabank Giller Prize–nominated author of The Bone Mother and RED X
“Paola Ferrante’s monster-haunted stories are as dark as a moonless lake—and as beautiful.” —André Forget, Amazon Canada First Novel Award–nominated author of In the City of Pigs
“Paola Ferrante’s writing is so daring, so sharp and visceral, and yet so effortless. Gorgeous, wry, and unsettling, Her Body Among Animals pulls the reader in and doesn’t let go until the final page—even then, you might still find yourself thinking about these stories any time you see a spider spinning a web or a bird flying overhead. These stories are unlike anything I have ever read, and Ferrante is one of the most exciting and original new voices in Canadian literature.” —Amy Jones, author of Pebble & Dove
“This collection dives deep beneath the surfaces of water bodies and pits in the sand, beyond reflections in the mirror, spectral traces on the glass, flashes of light from the cosmos, and between the unintelligible spaces that separate individual minds, bodies, and species from one another in shared and vulnerable ecosystems and domestic spheres. The characters are alive between worlds, seeking to make sense of the unreality of reality and the reality of unreality. Strangeness and beauty abound amid violence and disorientation. The constellations shimmer and speak. Language slips so meanings are rarely clear but the slips are often darkly funny and eerily sublime. These stories are a testament to a mind that travels far and a voice that speaks an urgent language.” —Angélique Lalonde, Scotiabank Giller Prize–shortlisted author of Glorious Frazzled Beings
“The vibrant stories in Paola Ferrante’s collection Her Body Among Animals transport the reader to strange, yet achingly familiar territory. Ferrante holds up a funhouse mirror to our contemporary moment with her sharp and dazzling prose. At the heart of these stories is the emotional truth of what it means to be human, told from unexpected perspectives: a sentient robot, a wife-turned-spider, and Mother Units. These wondrous narratives showcase the infinite scope of the universe and the ways in which we struggle to survive.” —Doretta Lau, author of How Does a Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun?
“Her Body Among Animals feels particularly urgent given the headlines that have dominated newsfeeds this year. The world is burning, and Ferrante has generously given us a way to look at that grim reality, to grapple with our feelings of terror and loss, and to process what it means to live through unrelenting catastrophe.”—Quill & Quire
14 Canadian Multi-Genre Writers You Have to Read —49th Shelf
Most Anticipated: Our 2023 Fall Fiction Preview —49th Shelf
2023 Fall Preview: Fiction and Short Fiction —Quill & Quire
Animals of CanLit —Amy Jones, 49th Shelf
Sixty-two books to read this fall —The Globe and Mail
74 works of Canadian fiction to read in fall 2023 —CBC Books
“There is no filler here; each story is devastating, brilliantly imaginative, and almost impossible to summarize neatly. Ferrante is a vital new voice in short fiction.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Elegant and arresting, the eleven modern fables in Paola Ferrante’s Her Body Among Animals thrum with a desperate, racing pulse as they capture the everyday horrors women live with and the sacrifices—of personhood, opportunity, and safety—their ordinary lives require.” —Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers, Foreword Reviews
“A tour de force of storytelling, a powerful, challenging, rewarding experience.” —Robert J. Wiersema, Toronto Star
An Interview with Paola Ferrante, author of Her Body Among Animals —Across the Pond Podcast
‘Sideways Angle’: Paola Ferrante uses horror and the fantastic to explore the dark side of contemporary life —Quill & Quire
Everyday Horrors: An Interview with Paola Ferrante —Prism International Magazine
Weird Era feat. Paolo Ferrante —Weird Era podcast
“These stories are electric. Ferrante approaches the short story as a full and beautiful form in itself; while her subject matter is quite dissimilar to the great Alice Munro, her stories are similar in that they contain whole worlds.” —Alison Manley, The Miramichi Reader
Horror, fairy tales, and writing the surreal: An interview with Paola Ferrante —All Lit Up
The CBC Books fall reading list: 40 Canadian books to read this season—CBC Books
Everyday Horrors: An Interview with Paola Ferrante—PRISM international
Interview with Paola Ferrante—The Commentary
The Hamilton Review of Books’ Independently Published Bestsellers List: October 2023—The Hamilton Review of Books
12 or 20 (Second Series) Questions with Paola Ferrante—rob mclennan
Best Books of 2023: Short Fiction—The Miramichi Reader