Jean-Baptiste Del Amo is one of France’s most exciting and ambitious young writers. He will be discussing Animalia (Grove Atlantic, translation by Frank Wynne), the English translation of his acclaimed Règne animal (Gallimard, 2016). Animalia, his fourth novel, is his first to appear in English. His debut novel, Une éducation libertine, won the Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman.
The small village of Puy-Larroque, southwest France, 1898. Éléonore is a child living with her father, a pig farmer whose terminal illness leaves him unable to work, and her God-fearing mother, who runs both farm and family with an iron hand. As the twentieth century rolls on, Éléonore gets a taste of the changes that will transform her world. By the time the reader reaches the second part of the novel, which takes place in the 1980s, the untamed world of Puy-Larroque seems gone forever. Moments of sublime beauty and powerful emotion mix with the thoughtless brutality waged against animals that makes the old horrors of death and disease seem like simpler times.
A prizewinning and word of mouth literary sensation in France, 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. This dramatic and chilling tale of man and beast, reminiscent of the naturalism of writers like Émile Zola, traverses the twentieth century as it examines man’s quest to conquer nature, critiques the legacy of modernity and the transmission of violence from one generation to the next, and questions whether we can hold out hope for redemption in this brutal world.
Event in English