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Her Body Among Animals by Paola Ferrante

Her Body Among Animals by Paola Ferrante

2023 Danuta Gleed Literary Award Runner-Up

2023 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards Silver Winner for Short Stories

2023 Shirley Jackson Awards nominee

Literary Fiction / Speculative  Fiction / Short Stories
Publication Date: September 12, 2023
264 pages
5.25 x 8 inches
ISBN 9781771668385

Trade Paperback
(In stock)
(In stock)

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?

2023 Danuta Gleed Literary Award Jury Citation

Her Body Among Animals shows us a writer with a gift for detail. These stories are sharply observed, drawing in magic where the ordinary touches. Her encyclopedic knowledge of animal and insect facts are seamlessly knitted into her stories and the way she uses them to embody her characters, from an albatross thrashing its wings against the glass in a Nanaimo emergency room, to a spider whose need to be herself alienates her from her partner. With sharp but touching insights into mental health struggles, fraught relationships, breakups and identity, Her Body Among Animals is poignant and affecting. Her sentences strike, hiss, and knock you back—leaving you grateful to be here at all.”

Press Coverage

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

“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

“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 AnimalsAcross 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

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’s blog

Best Books of 2023: Short Fiction —The Miramichi Reader

The Horror and Fairy Tales of Uncanny CanLit —49th Shelf

A Gift Guide for the Book Lover —NUVO Magazine

“Ferrante bends the conventions of science fiction, fantasy, and magical realism to build a holistic picture of embodied experience under patriarchy, capitalism, and ecological collapse. Ferrante is not the first author to cross genres or to blend them, but I think her work across genres contributes to the central theme of the collection: the generic hybridity mirrors the fictional entanglement of humans, animals, machines, and ghosts.” —Libby O’Neil, Full Stop

“Ferrante’s writing is smart, fast-paced and full of looping sensory images and details that guide her reader into the skin of each deeply fleshed-out and sympathetic character, and zips us into their minds.” —Susan Sanford Blades

A Reading List for Women’s History Month 2024 —CLMP

Best Books of 2023: Short Fiction —The Miramichi Reader

About the Author

Paola Ferrante is a writer living with depression. Her debut poetry collection, What to Wear When Surviving a Lion Attack (2019), was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. She has won Grain Magazine’s Short Grain Contest for Poetry, The New Quarterly’s Peter Hinchcliffe Short Fiction Award, Room Magazine’s Fiction Contest, and was longlisted for the 2020 Journey Prize for the story “When Foxes Die Electric.” Her work appears in After Realism: 24 Stories for the 21st Century (2022), Best Canadian Poetry 2021 (2021), North American ReviewPRISM International, and elsewhere. She was born, and still resides in, Toronto.