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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Talking Animals

Talking Animals

A Novel

Joni Murphy

FSG Originals

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"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 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 kvetche… More…

"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 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.

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Praise for Talking Animals

"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 in this moment of human-engineered bittersweet disaster." —Patty Yumi Cotrell, author of Sorry to Disrupt the Peace

"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

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Reviews from Goodreads

Joni Murphy

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

image of Joni Murphyo
Erin Dowding

Joni Murphy