‘Sharp’ – The Guardian
‘Excellent’ – Glamour
‘Darkly funny’ – Harper’s BAZAAR
‘Chaotic’ – The Skinny
Amelia is no stranger to sex and death.
Her job as a cosmetic mortician at her family’s funeral parlour might be unusual but she’s good at it. When it comes to meeting people who are still breathing she uses dating apps. Combining with someone else’s body at night Amelia can become something else, at least for a while.
But when a sudden loss severs her ties with someone she loves, Amelia sets off on a seventy-two-hour mission to outrun her grief – skipping out on the funeral, running away to stay with her father in Tasmania and experimenting on the local BDSM scene. There, she learns even more about sex, death, grief and the different ways pain works its way through the body. It’ll take a pair of fathers, a bruising encounter wiht a stranger and recognition of her own body’s limits to bring Amelia back to herself.
Wise and heartbreakingly funny, Ella Baxter’s New Animal is a stunning debut.
‘Self-destructive anti-heroines are in vogue, but what Amelia’s story makes clear is how under-represented female sexuality still is.’ – The Telegraph, The Four best Debut Novels to Read
‘There’s a compelling quality to Amelia’s honesty that recalls Raven Leilani’s Luster or the sex-addicted eponymous narrator of Leila Slimani’s Adele.’ – The Irish Times
Baxter's writing is so forthright, her protagonist so raw and unmediated in her feelings, thoughts and flailing at the "arrowhead of sorrow" that New Animal makes for compelling reading . . . an intense, viscerally affecting book, with the quotient of tenderness to violence in an equal scale. * Sydney Morning Herald * Baxter is fascinated with the female body, which "trots everywhere with you like an indebted lover", and how it assimilates extreme emotions . . . Self-destructive anti-heroines are in vogue, but what Amelia's story makes clear is how under-represented female sexuality still is. -- 'The four best debut novels to read in 2022' * Telegraph * There's a compelling quality to [Amelia's] honesty that recalls Raven Leilani's Luster or the sex-addicted eponymous narrator of Leila Slimani's Adele. As with these books, Baxter focuses on the ways in which pain works its way through the body. * Irish Times * There's not one expected detail here . . . Excellent. * Glamour * This story is unique and compelling. New Animal is funny, sad, and illuminating about the nature of mourning. Turns out, there's a lot to be learned about grief from the kink community. Who knew? * Buzzfeed * Amelia is in her late 20s and working at her stepfather's mortuary. But when her mother suddenly dies, rupturing her fragile family, Amelia flees to Tasmania, joins a BDSM community and embarks on a journey toward self-acceptance. * The New York Times * New Animal is a wonderfully tender book. Ella Baxter doesn't shy away from any of the messiness of humanity, choosing instead to lean in, hard, and unpack all the ways that grief breaks us down and ultimately reshapes us. It's feral and raw, laugh out loud funny in parts, and absolutely the kind of family mess I love best. Baxter is a delightful writer and New Animal is a hell of a read. * Kristen Arnett, New York Times-bestselling author of With Teeth and Mostly Dead Things * One of 2022's most exciting debuts, New Animal is a blistering, darkly funny account of its narrator's eventful attempt to outrun her grief, in a 72-hour exploration of sex, death and pain. * Harper's BAZAAR * I inhaled Ella Baxter's New Animal, which is the sort of animal that is all spine, all teeth. The deftness of her prose, which is so damn funny, along with such a poignant and true and entertaining story, make this a book that positively glitters. Ella Baxter's New Animal is an animal that is so animal it's human. * Lindsay Hunter, author of Eat Only When You're Hungry * [Main character Amelia] has outrageous sex to swallow her ineffable sadness, and though she's from Australia rather than Ireland, she could have stepped from the pages of a Sally Rooney novel... Baxter is a sharp observer, and seems to have the Didion knack of getting close to a subject without surrendering her scepticism. * The Guardian * I loved this macabre, mordant, and very moving book. New Animal surprised and comforted me with its deft investigations of grief, power, and self, and with its beautiful prose. This is an economical novel that packs a major emotional punch. * Lydia Kiesling, author of The Golden State * This is writing that is sharp and fearlessly chaotic, grappling with the depths humans go to for mere illusion of control. Luridly funny and always surprising, New Animal takes on the promise of catharsis--and upends it entirely. * The Skinny *
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