Image: Issa Watanabe, from the book Migrantes, published 2019 by Libros del Zorro Rojo. Courtesy of the artist.
This month we’ve traveled back in time and through our archive to round up international stories featuring animals. In settings from rural Galicia to metropolitan Hong Kong and narratives that swing from the tragic to the absurd, writers from eight countries explore the complexities of human-animal relationships. In Baghdad, Hassan Blasim sees an incongruous pet deployed in a deadly prank. Ilana Zeffren’s cats provide a running commentary on events in their Tel Aviv home, while Cameroon’s Patrice Nganang channels a happily domesticated dog. Xi Xi’s bereaved Hong Kong cat owner mourns with a vengeance, and Estonia’s Eeva Park confronts a feral stray. In stories from three regions and languages of Spain, Álvaro Cunqueiro reins in a Galician Mr. Ed, Sergi Pàmies joins a retiring Catalan’s farewell to his favorite colleague, and Madrileño Juan José Millás observes a beach vacation gone south. Singapore’s Wong Koi Tet sets a superstitious man on the trail of an escaped panther. And a Himalayan folktale shows the value of harmonious human-animal coexistence and the irreversible cost of its disruption.
An International Menagerie: Animal Stories
Some of the animals here possess the power of speech, deploying it to often subversive ends.
End of the Line
Much in the same way that for thirty years he's been incapable of breaking the rules, today he just doesn't see himself having the heart to comply with them.
The Green Zone Rabbit
Wasn’t it your bloody rabbit that laid the egg?
This is How it is When You’re Involved with Sensitive Girls
I choose to keep away from shrinks and still end up on their sofa.
A Dog’s Life
He was old and filthy and probably hadn’t eaten for some time.
One thought occupied his mind all this time: that he might not have a son to perform his last rites.
Agony in the Kitchen
Surveying the men near him to see which ones looked more athletically inclined, he selected the members of a prospective rescue party.
Alberte Merlo’s Horse
So began many long months of conversation between Alberte and his horse.
Davin Chan Moves Out
Then, with the aid of a scalpel, he would dismember the body for disposal but save the woman’s breasts and pudenda.
When the Deer Moved Away
Deeku refused to understand the close bond between the humans and the deer and their dependence on each other.
I perform without any rage when my master calls me, even if I always shuffle along a little while I do it.
Reviewed by Benjamin Woodard
Masha Mohebali's novel is a snappy, inventive picaresque with an unforgettable lead.
Reviewed by Elaine Margolin
Shukri Mabkhout's award winning novel shows characters attempting to navigate a society in tumult.
Reviewed by Ben Goldman
Samar Yazbek's novel uses a memorable narrator to explore the indelibility of storytelling.
Reviewed by Jose-Luis Moctezuma
Antonio Gamoneda's collection of poems interprets the American blues tradition with powerful results.