Synopses & Reviews
An exquisite, blistering debut novel...
Three brothers tear their way through childhood — smashing tomatoes all over each other, building kites from trash, hiding out when their parents do battle, tiptoeing around the house as their mother sleeps off her graveyard shift. Paps and Ma are from Brooklyn — he's Puerto Rican, she's white — and their love is a serious, dangerous thing that makes and unmakes a family many times. Life in this family is fierce and absorbing, full of chaos and heartbreak and the euphoria of belonging completely to one another. From the intense familial unity felt by a child to the profound alienation he endures as he begins to see the world, this beautiful novel reinvents the coming-of-age story in a way that is sly and punch-in-the-stomach powerful.
Written in magical language with unforgettable images, this is a stunning exploration of the viscerally charged landscape of growing up, how deeply we are formed by our earliest bonds, and how we are ultimately propelled at escape velocity toward our futures.
"Some books quicken your pulse. Some slow it. Some burn you inside and send you tearing off to see who made this thing that can so burn you and quicken you and slow you all at the same time. A miracle in concentrated pages, you are going to read it again and again." Dorothy Allison
"We the Animals is a dark jewel of a book. It's heartbreaking. It's beautiful. It resembles no other book I've read. We should all be grateful for Justin Torres, a brilliant, ferocious new voice." Michael Cunningham
"We the Animals snatches the reader by the scruff of the heart, tight as teeth, and shakes back and forth — between the human and the animal, the housed and the feral, love and violence, mercy and wrath — and leaves him in the wilderness, ravished by its beauty." Paul Harding
"In language brilliant, poised, and pure, We the Animals tells about family love as it is felt when it is frustrated or betrayed or made to stand in the place of too many other needed things, about how precious it becomes, and about the joy and dread of realizing that there really is no end to it." Marilynne Robinson
"Torres's concentrated prose goes down hot like strong liquor." Tayari Jones
"Rumbles with lyric dynamite....Torres is a savage new talent." Benjamin Percy, Esquire
"A fiery ode to boyhood....A welterweight champ of a book." NPR, Weekend Edition
"A tremendously gifted writer whose highly personal voice should excite us in much the same way that Raymond Carver's or Jeffrey Eugenides's voice did when we first heard it." Washington Post
"A novel so honest, poetic, and tough that it makes you reexamine what it means to love and to hurt." O, The Oprah Magazine
"The communal howl of three young brothers sustains this sprint of a novel....A kind of incantation." The New Yorker
We the Animals is a gorgeous, powerful novel that tears deep into the heart of family and launched Justin Torres straight into the spotlight, with a storm of praise from far and wide, including this from Esquire: "Justin Torres is about to be knighted. We the Animals . . . is the kind of book that makes a career."
We the Animals
has met with extraordinary acclaim, from writers like Michael Cunningham, Paul Harding, Marilynne Robinson, Dorothy Allison, and Tayari Jones, and publications like Forbes
, the New York Times
, and more. A novel with reach as well as power, it landed on national and regional bestseller lists and is poised to find an even larger audience in paperback.
This "fiery ode to boyhood" (Scott Simon, NPR) tracks three brothers as they tear their way through childhood, growing up in the shadow of Paps and Ma and learning a kind of love that is serious, dangerous, unshakeable, glorious. A stunning exploration of how we are formed by our earliest bonds, We the Animals bears witness to Justin Torres's serious talent and heralds him as a "brilliant, ferocious new voice" (Michael Cunningham).
About the Author
Justin Torres is a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop and a recent Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford. He was the recipient of a Rolón Fellowship in Literature from United States Artists and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, Granta, Tin House, and Glimmer Train. Among many other things, he has worked as a farmhand, a dog walker, a creative writing teacher, and a bookseller; he is now a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard.
Table of Contents
We Wanted More 1
Never-Never Time 4
The Lake 18
Us Proper 24
Other Locusts 33
Talk to Me 39
You Better Come 44
Night Watch 52
Big-Dick Truck 61
Trash Kites 82
Wasnt No One to Stop This 86
The Night I Am Made 103