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Jean-Baptiste Del Amo

Jean-Baptiste Del Amo, one of France’s most exciting and ambitious young writers, will travel to the US this fall to discuss his prizewinning novel Animalia, translated by Frank Wynne and soon to be published by Grove Atlantic (September 10, 2019).

Jean-Baptiste Del Amo is a French writer whose debut novel, Une éducation libertine (Gallimard, 2008) met a huge success among the public and the critics and won the prestigious Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman. After publishing his second novel, Le Sel, he spent a year as a pensionnaire at La Villa Médicis and received a grant from the Lagardère Foundation, which enabled him to publish the Sade-prize-winning Pornographia. His books were translated into German, Rouman, Italian and Spanish. Animalia, originally published with the title Règne animal by Gallimard in 2016, is his fourth novel and the first to appear in English.

Frank Wynne is an Irish literary translator and writer who has notably translated French authors Michel Houellebecq (Atomised, Platform, Lanzarote), Claude Lanzman, Jules Verne and Virginie Despentes.

About the Book: Animalia

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 (named a Best Recent Book by the Sunday Times) 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. More information about the book here.


"This is an extraordinary book. A dark saga related in sprawling sentences, made denser still by obscure and difficult vocabulary . . . I was spellbound . . . The strangeness of the words, used with precision and scientific exactitude, slows your reading down, immersing you more in the scene on the page, and those scenes are so vividly imagined and conveyed . . . A kind of savage reimagining of Thomas Hardy and D.H. Lawrence." —David Mills, Times (UK)

"Del Amo's pungent, nightmarish English-language debut describes, in a mythic, arresting style, the bleak fates of a cursed family and the pigs they rear . . . The florid prose has an incantatory power well suited to the festering enmity, inhumanity, and majestic squalor on display. This uncompromising vision will leave readers breathless, thrilled, and exhausted."Publishers Weekly

“Reminiscent of Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury.”Le Figaro (France)