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The Study of Animal Languages

A Novel
Length: 5 hrs and 48 mins
Categories: Fiction, Literary
4 out of 5 stars (13 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"An unabashedly smart and affecting portrait of the strains of a marriage." (Ayana Mathis, author of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie)

Meet Ivan and Prue: a married couple - both experts in language and communication - who nevertheless cannot seem to communicate with each other.

Ivan is a tightly wound philosophy professor whose reverence for logic and order governs not only his academic interests, but also his closest relationships. His wife, Prue, is quite the opposite: a pioneer in the emerging field of biolinguistics, she is bold and vibrant, full of life and feeling. Thus far, they have managed to weather their differences. But lately, an odd distance has settled in between them. Might it have something to do with the arrival of the college's dashing but insufferable new writer-in-residence, whose novel Prue always seems to be reading?

Into this delicate moment barrels Ivan's unstable father-in-law, Frank, in town to hear Prue deliver a lecture on birdsong that is set to cement her tenure application. But the talk doesn't go as planned, unleashing a series of crises that force Ivan to finally confront the problems in his marriage, and to begin to fight - at last - for what he holds dear.

A dazzlingly insightful and entertaining novel about the limitations of language, the fragility of love, and the ways we misunderstand each other and ourselves, The Study of Animal Languages marks the debut of a brilliant new voice in fiction.

©2019 Lindsay Stern (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

  • Named one of the Most Anticipated Books of 2019 by Vanity Fair, Southern Living, and Lithub
  • Named One of the Most Anticipated Books of February by Nylon and Bustle 

"Artful and astute, funny and unnerving, The Study of Animal Languages brilliantly captures how easily we can mistake our impressions of the world, and the models we make of them, for the world itself. A knockout.” (Paul Harding, author of Tinkers)

“A fascinating, original meditation on a human relationship and the non-human world from a very talented new writer. Quietly provocative.” (Jeff Vandermeer, author of The Southern Reach Trilogy)

"An exuberant, wise, and darkly funny novel about love, talent, ambition, envy, and the bungled ways we try to connect and care for each other.” (Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, author of The Nest

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Beautiful synthesis of thought and feeling

A book that holds opposites gracefully: funny and sad, philosophical and intimate, painful and hopeful, animal and human, ending and beginning. I love these people. Highly recommended.