'A beautiful and bold debut' M.J. Hyland, author of the Man Booker-shortlisted Carry Me Down
A funny, subversive and poignant debut novel from an exciting new writer.
'A joy to read' Amanda Craig
'Shades of Cold Comfort Farm...Charming' Guardian
English Animals is a subversive, wry debut that fans of Marina Lewycka's A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian will love.
When Mirka gets a job in a country house in rural England, she has no idea of the struggle she faces to make sense of a very English couple, and a way of life that is entirely alien to her. Richard and Sophie are chaotic, drunken, frequently outrageous but also warm, generous and kind to Mirka, despite their argumentative and turbulent marriage.
Mirka is swiftly commandeered by Richard for his latest money-making enterprise, taxidermy, and soon surpasses him in skill. After a traumatic break two years ago with her family in Slovakia, Mirka finds to her surprise that she is happy at Fairmont Hall. But when she tells Sophie that she is gay, everything she values is put in danger and she must learn the hard way what she really believes in.
It's a long time since I've enjoyed any debut novel as much as English Animals. Its command of tone, narrative and character is so assured, and both its wit and perceptiveness about a certain kind of English life make it a joy to read. I am sure it will win several prizes.
I loved the taxidermy ideas and details, and how beautifully they chimed with the human animal scenes presented. The dreadful marriage, the horrific father and above all Mirka herself with her courageous honesty and kindness make this something very special* Amanda Craig *
Kaye's satire usually hits the mark, coming at the expense of rural gastropubs with names like The Snooty Fox,
as well as the world of hipster taxidermy (Mirka starts assembling Dazed and Confused-friendly scenes called things like 'Freelance squirrels' and 'Rats at an office party') . . . Kaye is at her best when she sticks with her scalpel. It's good to see British writers still know how to use it