Synopses & Reviews
For fans of Helen MacDonald's H is for Hawk and Mary Roach, Erica Berry's WOLFISH blends science, nature, and cultural criticism in a years-long journey to understand our myths about wolves, and track one legendary wolf, OR-7, through the Wallowa Mountains of Oregon
Wolfish starts with a single wolf and spirals through nuanced investigations of fear, gender, violence, and story. A GORGEOUS achievement. —Blair Braverman, author of Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube
"This is one of those stories that begins with a female body. Hers was crumpled, roadside, in the ash-colored slush between asphalt and snowbank."
So begins Erica Berry's exploration of wolves, both real and symbolic. At the center of this lyrical inquiry is the legendary OR-7, who breaks free from his familial pack in northeastern Oregon. While charting OR-7's journey through the Wallowa Mountains and the sweeping valleys of south-central Idaho, Erica simultaneously details her own coming-of-age as she moves away from home and wrestles with the inherited beliefs about fear, danger, femininity, and the body.
As Erica chronicles her own migration — from crying wolf on her grandfather's sheep farm where she spent her childhood to accidentally eating a mandrake in Sicily — she struggles to find new expressions for how to be a brave woman, human, and animal in our warming world. What does it mean to reflect on our relationship to wolves and fear? How can our society peel back the layers of what scares us? By strategically maneuvering the strands of our cultural constructions of predator and prey, and what it means to navigate a world in which we can be both, Erica bridges the gap between human fear and grief through the lens of a wrongfully misunderstood species.
Wolfish is for anybody trying to navigate a world that is often scary. A powerful, timeless, and necessary book for our current and future generations.
"The space between humans and wolves is filled with stories, from fairy tales to family histories to our own fears and desires. With courage and insight, Erica Berry illuminates this tangled territory, inviting us to explore it for ourselves." Michelle Nijhuis, author of Beloved Beasts: Fighting For Life in an Age of Extinction
"Erica Berry's Wolfish is a marvel: a beautiful piece of work as wide-ranging as it is precise. Berry's keen eye and fresh, startling prose are not only an excellent guide to nature and the world around us, but also to what our reactions to the landscape tell us about ourselves — what we fear and who we might become. You won't want to miss this." V. V. Ganeshananthan, author of Love Marriage, longlisted for the Women's Prize
"Elegant and elegiac, Wolfish asks how we live alongside, and honor, both the wilds we do such harm to and the fears that run wild within us. Erica Berry beautifully weaves literature, science, philosophy, history, and her own memories to deconstruct millenia of myth-making around wolves, urging a return to something even more powerful than the tales we've spun: untangling the creature from our fear, to better understand both it and ourselves. This is a book composed of what humanity has made, yes, but above all it's a gorgeous reminder that we, too, are part of nature." Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, author of The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir
About the Author
Erica Berry is a writer based in her hometown of Portland, Oregon. She has an MFA from the University of Minnesota, where she was a College of Liberal Arts Fellow. Her writing has appeared in The Guardian, The New York Times Magazine, The Yale Review, Outside Magazine, Catapult, The Atlantic, Guernica, and elsewhere. Winner of the Steinberg Essay Prize and the Kurt Brown Prize in Nonfiction, she has received fellowships and funding from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Tin House, the Ucross Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources. A former Writer-in-Residence with the National Writers Series in Traverse City, Michigan, she is currently a Writer-in-the-Schools with Literary Arts in Portland. Wolfish is her first book.