54 The Ark
Three authors preoccupied with humankind’s relationship to the animal world take the stage this morning. In Yann Martel’s novels, animals often play central roles. In his new novel, a chimpanzee gets star billing. Says Martel, “There’s something about animals that curiously echoes the divine, in that animals have a strong sense of being in the present moment,” which humans have difficulty achieving. Andrew Westoll, who won the Charles Taylor Prize in 2012 for The Chimps, sets his novel in the rainforest where a primatologist is obsessed with the capuchin monkeys he studies. Alissa York located The Naturalist in the Amazon of 1867—“an Eden full of snakes.” We often set ourselves apart from animals but good fiction reminds us we’re all in the same ark.