Animalia retraces the history of a modest peasant family through the twentieth century as they develop their small plot of land into an intensive pig farm. In an environment dominated by the omnipresence of animals, five generations endure the cataclysm of war, economic disasters, and the emergence of a brutal industrialism reflecting an ancestral tendency to violence....more
An extraordinary novel that tells a brutal story in beautiful prose. It tells the story of a family tied to their small farm, starting in 1898 and ending in 1981. Del Amo does not spare the reader anything in his descriptions of the harsh realities of farming, and his humans often seem far more savage and brutal than the animals they keep.
The couple that the book start with are never named, and the woman is consistently described as the ...more
This coldness, this hard-won indifference to the animals, has never quite managed to stifle in Joël a confused loathing that cannot be put into words, the impression and, as grew, the conviction that there is a glitch: one in which pig rearing is at the heart of some much greater disturbance beyond his comprehension, like some machine that is unpredictable, out of kilter, by its nature uncontrollable, whose misaligned cogs are crushing them, ...more
This book already has strong reviews by Paul and Neil
So I will just add a few thoughts and observations of my own.
The writing is earthy, scatalogically, viscerally evocative I am not sure I have read many books where the effect of the writing goes beyond mental images to almost physical impact.
But it is also, particularly in the ...more
That said, Del Amos prose / Frank Wynnes translation is remarkably good with a ...more
This goes into my "very real but life is shit and then you die" category.
Animalia is not a book for the faint-hearted. Animalia is brutal, visceral. But it is compelling. Although split into four parts, it is a book of two halves. In the first, ...more
This is a farming family saga spanning to the sixth generation. Part I covers 1898 to 1914, Part II goes from 1914 to 1917, and Parts III and IV take place in 1981. Only Éléonore, daughter to the first generation, appears in each Part.
The first generation are tenant farmers. They live/survive by growing wheat and an occasional sale of a sow, when things go right. When the father becomes too ill to do all the work, he brings the young teenage ...more
I picked up this book because it was a finalist in the "Gay Fiction" category for the Lambda Literary Awards. To be clear: this is in no way an LGBT book. With the exception of 3 pages that hint at ...more
Del Amo succeeds in creating a brutal, but masterfully depicted world where filth and brutality reign, and where land, man and beast are linked inextraciably in a never-ending cycle of violence.
There are many strong points to this novel. Del Amo is clearly a gifted writer, and his descriptive text is beautifully rich. Del Amo also succeeded in painting the very rich and ...more
An extraordinary book I was spellbound.
I read this book as part a guest reader for the Republic of Consciousness Prize:
At once literary and written in a prose that peeks into every corner of the earth, sky, and human heart, Animalia takes on ideas of farm life, penury, and the struggle to keep on keeping on. In four parts, which bookend the rise and eventual destruction of an impoverished, cursed family in Puy-Larroque, France, the text may be compared to the work of Hungarian author Laszlo Krasznahorkai (specifically ...more
A horror of humans and pigs
By Jean-Baptiste Del Amo (Éditions Gallimard 2016)
Translated by Frank Wynne
Text Publishing Melbourne Australia 2019. 371 pages.
In Animalia, Jean-Baptiste Del Amo, born in 1981, tackles a tricky subject politically and ethically. Through the eyes of a farming family working a small acreage near the village of Puy-Larroque somewhere in France the story begins in 1898 and leads into the Great War and its aftermath. It then jumps to 1981 ...more
The author pulls zero punches describing the yuck of a pig farm and the family who runs it. In fact, Im not sure Ive ever read a more shit-filled (excuse me, thats excreta-filled) book. Whats really remarkable though is the ...more
Not a book for the faint-hearted, Animalia is a brutal account of the life of two generations of a French farming family. The first half looks at the time from 1898 through to 1917, in unflinching and gruelling detail. In the second half, we're in 1981, when the daughter of the first half has become the matriarch ruling with an iron fist.
While reading, I found myself thinking that no one's life could have been ...more
En 2006, il reçoit le Prix du jeune écrivain de langue française pour sa nouvelle Ne rien faire, écrite à partir de son expérience de quelques mois au sein d'une association de lutte contre le VIH en Afrique. Ce texte court, qui se déroule en Afrique le jour de la mort d'un nourrisson, est une fiction autour du ...more