Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Ceridwen Dovey

Ceridwen Dovey's new story collection is Only the Animals. From her Q & A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the concept for this book?

A: One day halfway through my degree in social anthropology at NYU in New York, I was talking to the department secretary who was going out to Utah to volunteer at an animal shelter filled with dogs and cats that had been airlifted out of Beirut during the 2006 bombings.

She showed me some photos of these creatures while she was telling me about the shelter, and I felt some very powerful emotions – sorrow, pain, right to my core – that I somehow could not feel for the human victims of the same conflict.

And around the same time, one of my favourite professors at NYU, the brilliant anthropologist Emily Martin, told me about her pet parrot Ruben, who had witnessed the second plane hitting the Twin Towers on 9/11 with her, and had become very sick and stressed in the weeks afterwards.

And this story just brought me to tears on the spot. I wrote the parrot story – in very different form – that year, and it was the start of the whole project.

I didn’t really realise it was going to be a “project” until I found myself wanting to write from the perspective of an ape after finishing the parrot story – so I did that. And then I suddenly wanted to write from the perspective of a camel in colonial Australia.

That’s when I think I realised I was going to have to work through these animal voices in my head and...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue