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Fiction Short Stories (single Author)

The Octopus Has Three Hearts

Short Stories

by (author) Rachel Rose

Douglas & McIntyre
Initial publish date
Apr 2021
Short Stories (single author), Animals, Contemporary Women
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2021
    List Price

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The Octopus Has Three Hearts offers dispatches from the margins of human society. These are stories about damaged people who have committed, witnessed or survived terrible acts and who must make their way in an unforgiving world.

From a goat farmer to a suburban adulterer, a violent child to a polyamorous marine biologist, Rose’s diverse characters have little in common except a life-sustaining connection to the animal world. The octopus, dogs, pigs, chameleons, bats, parrots, rats and sugar gliders in their lives extend a measure of compassion and solace that their human communities lack.

Rachel Rose’s finely tuned sense of irony is evident in this collection, which embraces the strange and unexpected, exploring the outer limits of empathy and forgiveness. Her flawed and broken characters, who may range far from readers’ own lived experiences, reveal universal elements of the human condition and the curious redemption of the human-animal bond.

About the author

Rachel Rose is the author of four collections of poetry and a memoir, The Dog Lover Unit: Lessons in Courage from the World’s K9 Cops (St. Martin’s Press), which was shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis award for best non-fiction crime book in 2018. She is also the recipient of the Bronwen Wallace Award for fiction from The Writers’ Trust, the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, a 2014 and 2016 Pushcart Prize and a 2016 nomination for a Governor General’s Award. She is the Poet Laureate Emerita of Vancouver, poetry editor at Cascadia Magazine and a contributor for Maisonneuve Magazine. Rose’s work has appeared in numerous anthologies and publications including The Globe & Mail, American Poetry Review, Poetry, Malahat Review, Rattle, New Quarterly, Best Canadian Poetry, Monte Cristo Magazine and the Vancouver Sun. She lives in Vancouver, BC.

Rachel Rose's profile page


  • Short-listed, Western Canada Jewish Book Awards
  • Long-listed, Scotiabank Giller Prize

Editorial Reviews

“I loved every one of these stories. I wish I had written them.”

Barbara Gowdy, author of <i>The White Bone</i>

“There is a buoyancy to the writing that with humor, insight and surprise carries the reader through stories that range from the magical to gritty realism. Read collectively they tell of a world tilting on its axis and in need of greater empathy and understanding to right itself. A world familiar and yet also defamiliarized in the telling.”

Karim Alrawi, <i>Los Angeles Review of Books<i>

“In The Octopus Has Three Hearts, Rachel Rose has built her own version of Noah’s Ark, filling it not only with a panoply of animals but the damaged people who love them. Rose’s deft, daring, and highly original collection kept me enthralled with its balance of often-violent detail and compassionate storytelling.”

Kevin Chong, author of <i>The Plague</i>

“...the individual stories are very strong.”

<i>Quill and Quire</i>

“What role do animals play in the lives of people? This is the question posed by author Rachel Rose in her bold, unabashed debut short fiction ... these compassionate, skilfully written stories will undoubtedly appeal to animal lovers as well as readers of literary short stories.”

Bev Sandell Greenberg, <i>Winnipeg Free Press</i>

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