The Animals in that Country by Laura Jean McKay (Book Review)

A book about a pandemic in a pandemic? Yes please. I think I’ve read more pandemic/plague books in the last year and a half than ever before because why not? It’s a fascinating concept, something out of our control that changes our world in some way.

The Animals in that Country has a plague that takes a while for people to even begin to understand the effects… people who are infected are able to communicate with animals. This sounds great – being able to chat with Fido or Fluffy, but think about how we as humans treat animals. If animals could talk to us, what would they say? And how?

I loved this book. I felt for the deeply flawed protagonist, Jean, who makes bad decision after bad decision and wants to be better, to protect those she loves whist constantly falling short of both her own and their expectations. I loved the way the animals communicate – of course, it not going to be in fully formed English sentences, So how to interpret, to connect. So many unexpected challenges. What a brain Laura Jean McKay has.

The Animals in that Country was the winner of the 2021 Victorian Prize for Literature and the 2021 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction, was the Slate and Sunday Times Book of the Year and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize.

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