About the author

Ceridwen Dovey

About the book

Judges' report

In this collection of stories, closely linked by subject and theme, the souls of ten animals speak to the reader. All ten have died in some kind of human conflict: a fastidious cat in the Great War trenches, an oversexed mussel in Pearl Harbor, a philosophical parrot abandoned in war-torn Beirut. Ceridwen Dovey adds a further layer of meaning and allusion by linking each animal to one or more writers: the wartime cat is a pet of Colette’s, the ape and the tortoise come from stories by Kafka and Tolstoy respectively, and the camel is camped in the middle of a scenario by Henry Lawson.

For so artfully structured and layered a book, this collection of stories both gives out and calls up an intensity of feeling rarely encountered in such cleverly self-referential writing. The book both avoids sentimentality and obliges readers to consider closely their own attitude to animals. And perhaps then to reconsider it.

Further reading


‘[A]n ambitious book with a fable-like surface, and a whole churning world beneath.’ – Romy Ash, The Guardian

‘As a collection, Only the Animals works as a journey into empathy that, for all its ideas, never neglects the basics of fiction: showing readers in beautiful words compelling characters who do fascinating things. ‘ – LS, The Saturday Paper

‘[A] perfectly integrated work of art brilliantly disguised as a collection of short stories.’ – Richard King, The Monthly

‘The energy and disturbing creativity of Only the Animals comes from a grand ambition to do nothing less than to make animals speak out of and reflect the many histories – literary, biological, scientific and human – they have occupied.’ – Delia Falconer, Sydney Review of Books


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