Modern menagerie

Modern menagerie

Only the Animals

by Ceridwen Dovey

Hamish Hamilton, $29.99 pb, 266 pp, 9781926428581

One of the animal narrators in Ceridwen Dovey’s Only the Animals, a dolphin named Sprout who is writing to Sylvia Plath, quotes Nobel Prize-winner Elias Canetti: ‘whenever you observe an animal closely, you feel as if a human being sitting inside were making fun of you.’ The ten animal souls whose thematically interwoven stories Dovey recounts do not simply ‘make fun’ of humans (far from it), but Canetti’s image of the ‘human sitting inside’ nevertheless provides an apposite introduction to Dovey’s project as a whole. Here each animal protagonist is an unashamedly literary, anthropomorphised invention, with physical and behavioural characteristics of its species grafted on in service to its creator’s startlingly original and imaginative design.

Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month.

We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Published in May 2014 no. 361
Sam Cadman

Sam Cadman

Sam Cadman is a writer, musician, and lawyer. He is currently a PhD candidate at Deakin University in the School of Communication and Creative Arts. The title of his thesis is Rethinking the Human/Animal Border through Storytelling. In 2013 Sam was shortlisted for the ABR Voiceless Fellowship. He practises part-time in commercial litigation. 

By this contributor

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.