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4.04  ·  Rating details ·  334 ratings  ·  71 reviews

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.

Kindle Edition, 424 pages
Published March 20th 2019 by Fitzcarraldo Editions (first published August 18th 2016)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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Deserved Winner of the Republic of Consciousness Prize 2020
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
Paul Fulcher
Winner of the 2020 Republic of Consciousness Prize

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,
Gumble's Yard
Now winner of the 2020 Republic of Consciousness Prize for UK and Irish small presses.

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
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Animalia is an immersive and deeply unsettling novel set in 20th-century French countryside, parts 12 in the early decades and parts 34 in 1981 (the year the author was born, if that explains the specificity in any way). Thematically, it reflects on violence against animals and humans, and probes that difference. Its a disgusting read, occasionally making me feel sick, and it definitely halts your craving for bacon

That said, Del Amos prose / Frank Wynnes translation is remarkably good with a
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
First half fantastic, and we were all set for a 5 star read. Second half way too unsubtle in its critique, and melodramatic in its presentation. But overall a very impressive piece of work and well worth reading.
No rating. The sentence structure became unreadable for me. Like reading Faulkner translated from another language. Too dire with immense amounts of morose, filthy, despondent and depressive descriptions.

This goes into my "very real but life is shit and then you die" category.
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How do I reconstruct this story, so simple, so commonplace that it is almost banal, yet simultaneously complex and nebulous? How to depict what needs to be perceived so it can be understood at a glance, not horizontally, like the line of the story I am about to tell you for want of any other, but simultaneously, like a point?

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,
Brutal, absolutely brutal, but brilliantly written.

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
Mar 28, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Animalia" is Jean-Baptiste Del Amo's odd and frank portrayal of a family of pig farmers over the course of 100 years as they grow their farm from a pre-industrial place of connection with the land into a disconnect and fraught factory in which animals become nothing but machines to make more animals.

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
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A novel that follows the lives of a clan of rural French farmers over the span of almost a hundred years (from 1898 to 1981).
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
Jake Goretzki
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
What can I say here that won't completely turn a reader off from reading this book? Not much, unfortunately. I can only describe Animalia as a deeply disturbing and unsettling novel that, after intensely battering me with page after unrelenting page of graphic and vivid depictions of cruelty to animals as well as people (though mostly animals), left me with a sense of despair not unlike what I imagine most people felt when Trump was elected president. There's not much hope for humankind these ...more
Jun 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Life in the raw. A family saga of sorts tracing the fortunes of French farmers from desperately poor subsistence farming with just a few animals in 1898 to modern pig farming in the 1980s. But this is no bucolic pastoral. Its one of the most brutal, visceral books Ive ever read, full of the sights, sounds and smells oh the smells! the cruelty and brutality, the savagery almost, of farming and animal husbandry. Eleonore is the matriarch or genetrix as she is described in the first part of ...more
Vrouw To
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thick with brutality.
A. Redact
Nov 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
truly devastating
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Text Publishing
Animalia is stupendously good. This is a novel of epic scope and equally epic ambition, and it is exhilarating and frightening to read. Every page blazes with incandescent prose. After reading Animalia it might be a while before I can return to reading a contemporary novel, I suspect everything will seem tepid and timid in comparison. Del Amo has thrown us down a gauntlet: be bold, be daring, be rigorous, be a poet. A stunning book.
Christos Tsiolkas

An extraordinary book I was spellbound.
Konstantin R.
Mar 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: serious
[rating = A-/B+]
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
Shane Jones
Mind blowing in beauty, tone, violence, heart, language. Everything I want in the novel as art form.
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Martin Kerr
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
February 9, 2020

Martin Kerr

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
Mar 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one almost got five stars from me but sadly I just cant quite get there. Most of my favorite books are bleak af and this one ranks among the bleakest Ive read. Not one character has a happy ending. Yay! (Well maybe one, but to name that character would be a spoiler.)

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
Sep 07, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of a family in a small French village, stretching from 1898 to 1981. Parts 1 and 2 deal with the early 20th century, and the childhood of Éléonore, living in a small farmhouse with her (unnamed) mother and father, eventually joined by her cousin Marcel. Her father is terminally ill, too sick to look after the farm and their pigs. Parts 3 and 4, set in 1981, see Éléonore now as the matriarch of the family, her son Henri - in a parallel to his father, now terminally ill but hiding it ...more
Liz Goodwin
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, french
The buzz surrounding this award-winning French authors first English translation - the saga of a family of pig farmers - always includes a warning along the lines of Youll never eat bacon again! Well, I dont know about you, but thats the kind of literary challenge I feel compelled to accept. Del Amos rich, heady style almost overwhelms the imaginative senses, immediately plunging readers into the gorgeous and grisly of Gascon peasant life. We meet farmers daughter Eleonore pre-WWI, when ...more
Cynthia Byrne
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was an astonishing fiction, and I would have given 5 stars had it not been so very brutal and upsetting. The descriptions of the way the animals are slaughtered and all the bloodletting and gory descriptions of the sights, smells, takes a strong stomach to handle all that. It was unrelentingly brutal with the humans too, pointing out their ignorance and the religious superstition that contributed so much to their troubles.
James Kozubek
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I fell in love with the characters in this book. To me, it is one of the great achievements in literature in the past decade. It shows how violence is transmitted through generations, and also how grace emerges as an antidote to this. Even the father, who is hardened, has this moment where he sees his own reflection in the eye of the pig, and senses their situations are not that different. Sure, it is physical and demanding book, but isn't this the point of serious reading?
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, netgalley
Thank you to Grove Atlantic and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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
Oct 28, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
Read about 20 pp. and abandoned. Too graphic and scatalogical for me. Yuk! Unfortunately, I had read a very positive book review in a major publication. Recommended for no one. Premise had sounded interesting but oh well ...
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Faulkneresque (sort of), unflinching saga of decline of French rural family; for me, most compelling as condemnation of the cruelty of exploitation of animals for human ends, and the inevitable human toll it takes.
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Jean-Baptiste Del Amo, né le 25 novembre 1981 à Toulouse, est un écrivain français.

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

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