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Fiction Family Life

Animal Person


by (author) Alexander MacLeod

McClelland & Stewart
Initial publish date
Apr 2022
Family Life, Short Stories (single author), Literary
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2022
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2023
    List Price

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Winner of the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction. Named a Best Book of the Year by The New Yorker, CBC Books, and the Globe and Mail.
From Giller Prize finalist Alexander MacLeod comes a magnificent collection about the needs, temptations, and tensions that exist just beneath the surface of our lives. Named a Canadian Fiction title to watch by the CBC, Quill & Quire, and 49th Shelf, and a "must-read book" by Maclean's. Featuring stories published in The New Yorker, Granta, and the O. Henry Prize Stories.

Startling, suspenseful, deeply humane yet alert to the undertow of our darker instincts, the eight stories in Animal Person illuminate what it means to exist in the perilous space between desire and action, and to have your faith in what you hold true buckle and give way.
A petty argument between two sisters is interrupted by an unexpected visitor. Adjoining motel rooms connect a family on the brink of a new life with a criminal whose legacy will haunt them for years to come. A connoisseur of other people’s secrets is undone by what he finds in a piece of lost luggage. In the wake of a tragic accident, a young man must contend with what is owed to the living and to the dead. And in the O. Henry Award-winning story “Lagomorph,” a man’s relationship with his family’s long-lived pet rabbit opens up to become a profound exploration of how a marriage fractures.
Muscular and tender, beautifully crafted, and alive with an elemental power, these stories explore the struggle for meaning and connection in an age when many of us feel cut off from so much, not least ourselves. This is a collection that beats with raw emotion and shimmers with the complexity of our shared human experience, and it confirms Alexander MacLeod’s reputation as a modern master of the short story.

About the author

Alexander MacLeod was born in Inverness, Cape Breton and raised in Windsor, Ontario. His award-winning stories have appeared in many of the leading Canadian and American journals and have been selected for The Journey Prize Anthology. He holds degrees from the University of Windsor, the University of Notre Dame, and McGill. He currently lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and teaches at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.

Alexander MacLeod's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“The tales in this exquisite collection, set largely in Canada, are expertly paced and finely observed . . . [Macleod’s] eye is severe but not unfair, venerating the mingled beauty and horror of entangled existences.”
The New York Times Book Review

“The eight stories in “Animal Person” are deceptive . . . MacLeod writes with an almost colloquial style, easy-going and easy-reading. This straightforwardness obscures just how complex these stories are, leaving them to explode within the reader’s mind and heart.”
―The Toronto Star

“A brilliant collection . . . MacLeod offers piercing insights into how his characters see themselves in relation to their families. This is a winner.”
—Publishers Weekly (STARRED review)
Animal Person is easily the most compelling and captivating collection of short fiction that I have read in many, many years. It is humorous, suspenseful, compassionate, entertaining, mysterious, even wise, but it is also a book that doesn’t shrink from plucking the chord of anxiety that has become the bass note thrumming in the twenty-first century. A virtuoso performance by a writer in the vanguard of contemporary short story writers.”
—Guy Vanderhaeghe, author of August into Winter
“These tender, funny and ever-surprising stories all hint, in one way or another, at the impermanence of everythingand how impossible that impermanence always seems when you're caught up in the pulsating bloodstream of life.”
—Lynn Coady, author of Hellgoing

“Engrossing. . . . Populated by family and acquaintances of all stripes, MacLeod’s sly tales find characters reconsidering present assumptions and the unknown expanses of their own futures and those of the worlds they inhabit.”

“Alexander MacLeod is a writer of extraordinary subtlety. The pleasure in these stories is as much in the journey as the destination.”
—David Bezmozgis, author of Immigrant City

“These stories centre on moments—some dramatic, some seemingly small—when lives are altered irrevocably. MacLeod is a gifted stylist, and all the more impressive for his subtlety. While each story in Animal Person is memorable, ‘The Closing Date’ is the volume’s masterpiece, and one of the most powerful and unnerving stories I have ever read.”
—Ron Rash, author of In the Valley

“A talent so vivid.”
—Souvankham Thammavongsa, author of How to Pronounce Knife

“[An] exquisite collection.”

“The eight stories in Alexander MacLeod’s excellent second collection, composed in crystalline prose, glimmer and gleam with yearning and loss, as strange longings overwhelm his finely-drawn characters.”
Daily Mail (UK)

“Arresting, versatile, and wise. . . . Elegant and athletic, these eight stories deke expectations and repeatedly reinvent the possibilities of the short story form.”
―David Huebert, The Walrus

“Full of sharp epiphanies and moments of recognition—short fiction at its thought-provoking best.”
―Outside Magazine

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